PEOPLE are living in fear across East Limerick following the recent crime wave and the only solution is to increase the garda presence on the ground, says the chairman of a Community Alert group.
Former county councillor, Joe Meagher, says groups like Community Alert can only do so much.
“We put up notices and install phones but there is no substitution for people on the ground,” said Mr Meagher, who is chairman of Oola Community Alert.
As the garda training college in Templemore has been stopped from taking in recruits, Mr Meagher is proposing that a recruitment drive for the garda reserve be launched and get men and women on the beat in East Limerick.
“Admittedly it wasn’t a great success because it happened in a period when the economy was going well. It’s gone very bad now and it would be no bother to get recruits for it,” he said.
There are many people out there who have lost jobs through no fault of their own and would be delighted to participate. Wouldn’t it be great to have a garda reserve on the ground supporting the gardai and it would cost very little. The people involved would be protecting their own houses, families, neighbours and friends,” added Mr Meagher.
He says the gardai are doing great work “considering they have such limited resources” and the garda reserve will support them.
“People in East Limerick are living in fear of their lives. It is worse than any bail-out. People are frightened in their homes and more garda stations are going to close as well. There is an awful feeling of helplessness. They don’t know who is going to be next,” said Mr Meagher, who as a former chairman of the Civil Defence knows what voluntary groups can accomplish.
Deputy Niall Collins has backed Mr Meagher’s proposal and is raising it in the Dail this week.
“It is a very good idea,” said Mr Collins, who also called on the embargo on trainee gardai to be lifted.
“They are rehiring public servants in other areas of the public service so why not do that with gardai. The Department of Finance are hiring in lots of economists - they are necessary but so too are gardai,” said Mr Collins.
Meanwhile, in Pallaskenry a public meeting on the possible closure of Pallaskenry garda station has been called by Emmet O’Brien.
The member of the Fianna Fail National Executive says there are “major concerns” over the station’s future. The meeting is to take place in the Pallaskenry Community Centre on Thursday, June 28 at 8pm.