Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said that new figures which show severe reductions in the Garda staffing levels in stations across the country is a downward trend which must be immediately halted by the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.
Deputy McGrath made his comments after it was confirmed that Tipperary has seen the loss of 44 Gardaí in the period from 2010-2015.
“The loss of almost four dozen Gardaí from County Tipperary alone in the last five years represents a dramatic depiction of this Government’s real commitment to rural policing.
“It is an 11% drop from where we were during some of the worst years of the recession. It is a trend which must give us all immediate cause for concern.
“While I accept that the official incidence of recorded crime is down from 7300 to 6952, this is only partially true of the real situation.
“We know for incidence that since former Minister for Justice Shatter went on his closing down spree of rural Garda Stations that it has become far more difficult to actually report a crime to your local station.
“This must be taken into account for a more accurate picture.
What these figures also do not assess because it is harder to quantify, is the increase in real fear and concern that people in rural areas have been experiencing due to the near total invisibility of an active Garda presence.
“Hopefully as she continues to deliberate on a much needed review of current Garda policy, this Minister will take into account the unofficial reality that is lurking behind what are already dismal figures in terms of cuts to Garda numbers,” concluded Deputy McGrath.