A former Clonmel garda and president of the Irish branch of the International Police Association has hit out at the closure of garda stations in rural Ireland and savage government cutbacks affecting serving officers.
Dinny Dunne, President of the International Police Association (Ireland) said rank and file officers had no faith in Justice Minister Alan Shatter and they were never more disillusioned and demoralised with the job.
Speaking out after attending the funeral of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe in Dundalk last Wednesday, Mr Dunne, a former mayor and Fine Gael member of Clonmel Borough Council, said he saw no logic in closing garda stations all over the country.
He said he wholeheartedly supported the priest who celebrated Requiem Mass Fr Michael Cusack who used his homily to highlight the fear and worry among people in rural areas over garda station closures.
“He had a right go at Alan Shatter over the closures and the cutbacks and I never witnessed an ovation like the priest received that day,” said Mr Dunne.
At the funeral he was officially representing the International Police Association which was established in over sixty countries which consists of serving and retired members of police forces.
“It is disgraceful to think that a government can just close down 100 stations to save €4,000 on each station and leave the public without a service they relied on, The garda serving in the community was a deterrent. Locals depended on him. People felt safe in their beds at night. People in Dublin have no understanding of what life is like in the country” said M Dunne, who retired from the gardai in 1999 after thirty one years service.
“I never thought it would come to this, closing these stations is just indefensible,” he added.
Stations in Grangemockler, New Inn and Dundrum were among the casualties on the 100 long list of closures and Dinny Dunne fears that the government may not stop at that.
“There could be more closures, you really don’t know where Alan Shatter is going to stop on this.T he morale of the rank and file officers is at an absolute all time low. Pay and allowances has been savagely cut back and they are very concerned about these station closures which leave communities vulnerable,” he said.
The changing face of the Garda Siochanna would come at a cost, he warned, and said that there was a great danger involved in allowing a situation develop where contact between the gardai and communities was lost.
“The garda in the rural station had contact with the people every day. Now the majority of garda don’t live locally. The interaction that allowed the guard to get to know the people and the people to know the guard which formed the very basic of good policing is now being dismantled,” he said.
He supported Fr. Cusack and his decision to attack the garda cutbacks in front of such a powerful audience.
Dinny Dunne, who served as a garda with Fr. Cusacks father, said it was appropriate that Fr.Cusack should avail of the opportunity to question the cuts and affecting policing with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and senior political figures in the congregation.
“It was a very moving and sad occasion. The brutality of the murder shocked everybody and my sympathies goes out to the family. It was horrific to look at his wife and two little kids there. It was very very sad. After Gerry McCabe was killed I hoped I would never see a day like it again,” he said.