Limerick town plans for a very happy Christmas -  gardaí speak with locals over festive policing plan

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Email:

donal.oregan@limerickleader.ie

Limerick town plans for a very happy Christmas -  gardaí speak with locals over festive policing plan

Garda Andrew Maher receives the results of a survey on the gardai’s Business Watch scheme from Derek Downes, chairperson of Team Rathkeale. Also pictured is Triona Doody Kennedy and Eina Jones

SENIOR gardaí have spoken with locals in Rathkeale ahead of a Christmas like no other in living memory.

Superintendent of the Newcastle West Garda District, Aileen Magner said: “The annual increase in population to Rathkeale presents policing challenges, as it would in any other town of its size, however gardaí receive great support from the community in meeting these challenges.”

She was speaking following a Zoom meeting last week with the Rathkeale Pre Social Cohesion Group, which includes Travellers and settled people.

Supt Aileen Magner and Inspector Andrew Lacey discussed policing plans for the Christmas period with Nora Quilligan of the Traveller community;  Gordon Milne, chairperson of Rathkeale Pre Cohesion Social Group and Pat Neville, chairperson of the Rathkeale Community Council.

Supt Magner said the annual increase in the population is always met with an increase in the policing resources allocated to the town.

“This year we will have to see what Covid-19 restrictions are in place, but additional garda resources will be made available. Last year’s garda operation was very successful and whilst the ongoing national Covid emergency adds to the challenges, I have no doubt but that this year will see a continued successful co-operation between the community and gardaí,” said Supt Magner. 

With a surge in visitors and additional pandemic-related responsibilities the gardaí in Rathkeale carry out their duties with the appreciation of the town’s residents, said a statement issued by the community council.

“Residents of low-crime Rathkeale welcome the sight of extra gardaí over the Christmas period. Rathkeale’s population can double when Travellers visit family in the county and the town provides a centrally located base for serving all West Limerick.” 

Pat Neville, chairperson of the Rathkeale Community Council, said making adjustments to meet seasonal needs is simply good policy. 

“We thank the gardaí, Limerick City and County Council and our elected representatives for using Rathkeale as a resource for all West Limerick,” said Mr Neville.

The community council says that so far in 2020 Rathkeale has the lowest crime in the Newcastle West Garda District with most categories falling below the threshold for statistical reporting.

“Where crime increased from 2019 it is in the range of one or two theft reports. At the end of 2019, the last year for which reports are published, crime reports to the Rathkeale garda station had fallen dramatically since 2010 and levelled at around 7 per 100 people.

“Rathkeale gardai provide a host of services including crime prevention advice, welfare checks, victim services, vetting services, Covid restriction compliance checks, road traffic enforcement, and accident investigation, as well as crime detection and drug enforcement. They support Foróige, Ireland’s leading youth organisation that has a team in the town, and they engage with the community,” reads the statement.

In recent years, Rathkeale has hosted HSE triage clinics and a Garda Youth Diversion Programme youth cafe during the Christmas period as well as encouraged safety with designated parking spots, traffic calming speed bumps, CCTV cameras, and closed gates from blind laneways.

On the day of the meeting, Derek Downes presented Garda Andrew Maher with surveys from 40% of Team Rathkeale’s members who are interested in the gardaí’s Business Watch scheme.