MOST GARDAI attached to Henry Street station in Limerick, one of the largest stations in the country, would leave the job if they could, a garda who left the force just two weeks ago has said.
Speaking to the Limerick Leader, former garda Niall O’Connor said he felt compelled to hand in his notice as “it got to the point where I knew I couldn’t do a proper job”.
He said this was underpinned by a spate of cutbacks, increased workloads and “rock bottom” morale, as well as the “absurd” nature of the judicial system, when he saw many seasoned criminals walk free from court with a suspended sentence.
Mr O’Connor, who was based in Limerick for four years, has chosen to speak out at length about life in the gardai, and the reasons he has left the job he “loved” after five years in the hope conditions for his former colleagues will be improved.
He has revealed that severe cutbacks within An Garda Siochana often meant that when he turned up for duty at Henry Street there was only one car crew to cover their entire district.
The 33 year-old from east Cork said this was a “constant” occurrence, while the number of gardai forced to mind State witnesses in Limerick also meant that the number of gardai on patrol was greatly reduced.
He initially spent a year attached to Mayorstone station, and the past three years attached to Henry Street station, which he pointed out has responsibility for “one of the busiest, most dangerous and under-funded” regions in the country.
However, he was reluctant to reveal some operational duties which have been affected recently, in case this could compromise the gardai even further and give an advantage to those involved in crime in the city.
“Henry Street isn’t well resourced at all, but it would be unfair to disclose all that...I think it’s incredibly difficult for Sergeants in Limerick who have to come up with a solution to those manpower issues.”
He also said that the “egos of certain gardai would get ahead of them when they got a whiff of a promotion”, leading them to “hammer ordinary gardai on disciplinarian matters.”
“This was not just in Henry Street in Limerick, but the whole of the country. It’s a nationwide problem,” he said.
*See the Limerick Leader print edition for a full version of this story.