Councillors are to write to Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin about the Bruff superintendent that never arrived
LIMERICK councillors are up in arms at the treatment of the Bruff district by Garda Headquarters.
Anger and concern was expressed at the local area meeting after the Limerick Leader revealed their “new” superintendent – Niall Featherstone – who was due to start on Friday, April 6 wasn’t coming at all.
It has been dubbed the “case of the missing superintendent”. He was reassigned to another district in the country with no explanation.
Since Supt Tom Lundon was transferred to Dublin in October 2011, the area has had three full-time superintendents – Alan Cunningham, Feargal Patwell and William Duane – interspersed with numerous acting superintendents including Inspectors Luke Conlon, Paul Reidy and Dermot O’Connor, amongst others.
Cllr Brigid Teefy raised the issue at the monthly Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal district meeting.
“We were all delighted a superintendent was to be appointed and then he didn’t even come for one day.
“The district is the size of Co Louth. Crime has gone up in the last 12 months.
“It is desperate. We asked last month for somebody to be appointed.
“One needs to be appointed immediately for the morale of the force. There is nobody to fight their case. I don’t know what it is with Bruff. People are very disturbed with what is going on,” said Cllr Teefy.
It was unanimously agreed by the seven councillors that they write to Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.
Cllr Bill O’Donnell said it is like the “Keystone Cops”.
He proposed they ask why Supt Feathertsone didn’t take up the appointment, and why did the previous superintendent [William Duane] leave his position.
“We need to try and find out what the bloody problem is. As sure as eggs they come from a couple of months and they are gone again. This one didn’t even arrive. What is going on?” asked Cllr O’Donnell.
Cllr Gerald Mitchell, cathaoirleach of the Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal district, said it is an “embarrassing situation”.
“There is something seriously wrong. It looks very bad. They are not showing any respect to the people of the Bruff area. We need a head of operations on the ground.
“People are living in fear. A person was appointed and he never arrived. What is going on? There is something seriously wrong,” said Cllr Mitchell.
Cllr Eddie Ryan said it is “wrong what is going on”. The Galbally man called for the next superintendent to be somebody local.
Cllr Mike Donegan described the situation as a “holy disgrace”.
“When is it going to stop? When are they going to make an appointment? It has been a revolving door. It has to stop,” said Cllr Donegan.
Deputy Niall Collins raised the “fiasco” in the Dail last week with Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan.
He said the U-turn has left the community “flummoxed” and from speaking to gardai said there is “a huge sense of disillusionment” at how they are being treated.
One garda in the district told the Leader it is “actually unbelievable”.
“He was gone before he even came! Welcome to our world of uncertainty and of being rudderless for long periods,” they said.
Deputy Collins said: “The Acting Garda Commissioner needs to stop treating this senior garda role, based in Bruff, as a temporary staging post and appoint a person who intends to stay in the area and build up a strong local working knowledge.”
In reply to the Fianna Fail TD’s parliamentary question, Minister Flanagan said: “The deputy will be aware that the allocation and distribution of gardaí are matters for the Garda Commissioner.
“The Independent Policing Authority also has responsibility in the process. I do not have a personal or ministerial role in the appointment of superintendents to Limerick or any other part of the country. Nevertheless, I will be happy to convey the deputy's concern to the acting Garda Commissioner.”
Councillors in the Cappamore-Kilmallock municipal district said they want the answers to their questions back in time for their May meeting.