Fine Gael Councillor Pauline Coonan has hit out at a motion to have closures to Garda stations reversed, saying Fianna Fail had a very flawed memory of their party’s performance when it was in Government.
A motion tabled at North Tipperary County Council called for the Government and Minister Shatter to re-open rural garda Stations that were recently closed throughout Tipperary.
However, Cllr Coonan told The Tipperary Star that any attempt by Fianna Fáil to criticise the Minister for Justice over resources allocated to An Garda Síochána shows a level of ‘breathtaking hypocrisy that would be hard to beat.’
The Fine Gael Councillor said. “ Fianna Fáil sought to reduce Garda numbers from 14,500 at the end of 2010 to 13,000 by end 2014. Cllr Eddie Moran (Lowry team) should not cast aspertions on the ability of the Gardai to provide a good Garda service to Templemore and envrions. The drugs unit went out of Templemore 2 years ago or more and he never batted an eyelid to it then. It is worth remembering that under Fianna Fail’s plan for the Force there would have been E90 million euro less in the Garda Budget for last year than we managed to find this year.
“By contrast, this Fine Gael-led Government maintained a Force of 13,430 at end 2012, this is 80 more than FF planned.
It is also worth pointing out that:
· In 2012, Minister Shatter secured E2.243 billion which was an additional E118 million over and above the Fianna Fáil allocation of E2.125 billion
· For 2013, Minister Shatter secured funding of E2.2 billion which was E191 million over and above the Fianna Fáil allocation of E2.009 billion
· For 2014, Minister Shatter secured funding of E2.065 billion which was E105 million over and above the original Fianna Fáil allocation of E1.96 billion
“In 2012, 39 Garda Stations were closed. Eight of these had not been opened for a number of years. Their closure was a paper exercise which simply recognised a reality concealed by Fianna Fail. This year, following a comprehensive assessment by the Garda Commissioner of the Garda Station network, a further 100 are listed for closure in the Commissioner’s Policing Plan for 2013. Of the 100 stations to be closed in 2013: 94% are open for 3 hours a day or less
“It is the Garda Commissioners view that a country the size of Ireland, with a population of 4.5 million, does not, in the 21st Century, need 700 Garda stations. By way of comparison, there are 83 police stations in Northern Ireland for its population of 1.4 million and 340 stations in Scotland for its population of 5.2 million. In the London Metropolitan area, 66 police stations are due to close, leaving 73 police stations open to the public. Furthermore, Minister Brian Hayes has confirmed that, if an appropriate community management structure is put in place, the closed stations can be utilised for local community purposes and this can be of considerable benefit to a variety of local voluntary organisations who currently lack appropriate facilities.
“Approximately 160 additional Gardai have also been freed up for frontline services by taking them away from desk jobs. The Goverment has also provided E4m to purchase 213 new Garda vehicles in 2012 and E5m for more in 2013. FF made no provision for purchasing vehicle in these years. Provision of 3 new Garda Divisional Headquarters were also included in the special Government stimulus package announced last July.
“This is the reality of the situation. I will not accept Fianna Fáil or Cllr. Moran airbrushing the damage they did to this country and misrepresenting their time in the driving seat. We are all paying for their failures and I will not tolerate any attempts to deny their culpability in bringing us to where we are now,” she said.