Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said the new Government cuts to Garda overtime which are expected to be announced will only serve to strengthen the hand of criminal gangs because they are part of an indecisive and inconsistent approach adopted by the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after The Department of Justice informed Garda management that budget allocations imposed at the start of the year are being brought in as part of a drive in the public service to find €1bn in savings under the Haddington Road Agreement:
“In June, I welcomed the announcement by the Minister that he was to instruct for the recommencement of Garda recruitment at Templemore Garda Training College. I had thought then that he had finally seen sense and was prepared to commit the necessary resources to strengthening the Garda force in the face of a spiralling crime situation in the country, particularly among so called gangland crime.
“This news will do nothing to improve the morale of an already demoralised force nor will it lead to national units and local management at divisional and district level being able to deliver the kind of policing that our communities need and deserve.
“In the same week that we became aware that Ministers and this Government are recruiting extravagantly paid advisors without any consideration of the cost it is pathetic to hear the hypocritical talk of necessary savings.
“The criminals who are increasingly well organised in this country today do not stop their activities morning, noon, or night, and to that extent the Gardaí need the kind of flexibility given by the overtime facility.
“I am particularly shocked to hear that routine but vital tasks such as taking witness statements will no longer be covered by overtime, when it was this very activity of engaging with witnesses that led to the successful prosecution of John Dundon in Limerick last week.
“The Minister needs to commit to establishing a robust and well-resourced police force and stop sending the kind of mixed signals that leave frontline Gardaí uncertain while at the same leaving criminals with a very clear picture that those who oppose them will be available less and less,” said Deputy McGrath.