A Fine Gael Senator has echoed comments made by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, who stated that Garda recruitment figures set six years ago are not sufficient. This comes amid widespread calls for increased Garda visibility, to address heightened levels of anti-social behaviour in cities and towns across Ireland.
Senator Regina Doherty said, “There has been a growth in violent anti-social behaviour on our streets in recent months, and here in Dublin it is very clear to see. We are hearing near-weekly reports of random attacks on individuals – including hate-motivated assaults – as well as organised fights between gangs of thugs. It should never be the case that our people should be afraid to walk the streets of our towns and cities, nor that there should be ‘no-go’ areas.
“It would be simply incorrect to assume that these issues are unique to the city centre, because we also know that anti-social behaviour to spreading to suburban towns and villages. Communities across the Dublin region talk about gangs hopping on trains to quieter suburbs and wreaking havoc.
“My office is in Skerries and I have heard shocking stories of recent anti-social behaviour and violent crime from families who want to ensure their town remains a safe place for their children. We need to nip this in the bud, and we need to do it now.
“Fine Gael’s mission is to build stronger, safer communities, and a big part of that must involve pumping resources into communities, including local law enforcement. Fine Gael led Governments have consistently increased Garda numbers since we reopened the training college in Templemore, and we are also increasing Garda civilian staff to free up more Gardaí for frontline policing. However as the Garda Commissioner said yesterday in a very honest statement, our Garda recruitment targets, which were set six years ago, are now not sufficient.
“We need to ensure that the visibility of Gardaí on the ground matches need in our cities and towns. While it is heartening to see more men and women passing through Templemore and into the ranks of An Garda Síochána, we need to be more ambitious in recruiting members to the force. In the short term, every effort must be made to ensure people see and feel a Garda presence on our streets.
“We are the party of law and order and we are listening to people on the ground who tell us that we need to do better. The time for action is now”, concluded Senator Doherty.