HALF of west Limerick is being policed by as few as six gardai every night due to cutbacks, with the level of service being provided has been described as “basically non existent”.
A lack of vehicles, the failure to replace retiring officers and other cuts to resources have had a dramatic impact on policing in the Newcastle West garda district, which runs from Adare to the Kerry border, local garda sources have said.
Five major towns, several villages and thousands of residents in West Limerick are now being protected by a maximum of eight gardai each night, while faulty patrol vehicles remain grounded in need of repairs.
A rank-and-file garda based in West Limerick, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the local public is now receiving an average of 100 fewer man hours from gardai in the area.
“The level of policing West Limerick is getting at the moment is basically non existent. We’ve worked it out, and we reckon the public are losing about 100 man hours a week in the county.
“Because the section is so big, you usually have two gardai in Askeaton, two in Newcastle West and two in Abbeyfeale. You might have one sergeant on duty at the same time, but that’s it. There’d be eight max. Today and tomorrow [last Thursday] there’s four covering all of West Limerick.”
The garda said that three patrol cars and one public order van attached to the area are grounded awaiting repairs at the moment, and they do not know if these vehicles will be back in service before Christmas. “We were supposed to get an extra car down from Dublin, but the assistant commissioner stopped it and said we’d enough.”
The garda said that small stations in the region have had or are about to have gardai retiring without being replaced, at a time when resources are being spread even thinner over the ground.
“There’s more emphasis on road traffic checkpoints than the poor misfortune who’s after getting their house broken into.”
He added that allowances that gardai had been due to receive before Christmas were deferred at the last minute, placing even more financial pressure on rank-and-file officers.