GARDA Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, a regular visitor to West Cork, paid tribute to the work of retiring Chief Supt Tom Hayes last week.
Referring to the division’s success in reducing crime levels, Comm O’Sullivan recalled that Cork West was the first division to introduce the text alert scheme for communities.
‘We want to make sure that we reduce the opportunities for crime, by working with local communities,’ she told The Southern Star.
Confirming additional staff for the division in the coming weeks, she said she wished to pay tribute to ‘the whole team’ in the area for their success in recent years.
Some of the additional staff would be as a result of gardai seeking transfers into the division, she said, but added that she welcomed the recent announcement of additional recruitment for the force.
‘This was the first division to have the text alert scheme, and we are also working with the IFA, and we have the property marking scheme too which is very useful for people with farm machinery in particular,’ she said.
Because of the remoteness of many parts of the division, the Garda’s ‘Lock Up, Light Up’ campaign was important in this area, she said, adding that there was also an issue with isolated holiday homes, which needed to be monitored, with the help of community policing initiatives.
‘We have introduced more high powered vehicles and visible jeeps in the division,’ she added, and said the Coastal Watch system was also working well in a division which has a huge amount of coastline to police.
She said she became friends with the retiring Chief Supt Hayes through their combined work on a number of cases during his time as a detective inspector.
‘He has a great relationship with the communities here,’ she said, ‘and that is sometimes something we take for granted.
‘He did great work with the youth groups, through the Youth awards, and he also has done a lot of work with the elderly,’ she added. ‘And he is a great role model for younger gardai, he has compassion and empathy and that comes through.’
Comm O’Sullivan, whose father came from just outside Glengarriff, told the Star that she visits the area several times a year, and spent her childhood summers in West Cork, too, so is very familiar with the terrain.
‘We, in my family, call it County West Cork, and we often joke that it is the 33rd county of Ireland!’ the Commissioner said.