Kerry Senator Mark Daly has accused Fine Gael and Labour of being ‘totally out of touch with communities’ after the party refused to back down on severe cuts to community garda resources.
This week, Fianna Fáil will put down Private Members Motion in the Seanad opposing the closure of 100 Garda stations throughout the country.
Government TDs voted down a similar Fianna Fáil motion in the Dáil last week and Senator Daly has called on Fine Gael and Labour Senators to stand up for communities across the country who will be left devastated by these cuts.
The Fianna Fáil Senator said it’s a sad moment for community life in Ireland and questioned why the west coast was targeted for the bulk of the cuts.
“People in Kerry, who have seen the terrible impact of burglaries and crime in their communities over the past few months, cannot understand how Fine Gael and Labour can justify these cuts. The Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has now admitted that this is not about money. He said the savings will be negligible as the only costs are light and heat for these stations. Then why is he removing the physical presence of garda stations from so many rural communities?
“For instance, Ballinskelligs is one of the 9 areas in Kerry that lost the local garda station for good last week. This is an isolated station in a Gaeltacht area but it is a tourism hub and as a result, a garda station is required. But Fine Gael and Labour have refused to listen and abandoned this community by shutting down the garda station for good.
“We are not talking here about gardaí behind desks, we are referring to their being embedded in communities. People who live in communities like Ballinskelligs are frustrated because they have invested time in stopping crimes before they were committed. By the Government’s twisted logic, they are paying the price for putting so much work into achieving low levels of crime and they are now losing their garda station.
“Our motion in the Seanad this week also condemns the sneaky cuts to garda numbers and to the garda payroll, and calls for the reopening of the garda training college at Templemore.
“The gardaí here in Kerry and right across this region are under severe pressure at this time as they go beyond the call of duty to keep our communities safe. The underhand cuts to the garda payroll, which garda management says will push numbers in the force below 13,000, will put an unacceptable level on our local gardaí at the worst possible time.
“Fine Gael and Labour Deputies here in Kerry need to start listening to the communities they represent. They cannot continue to ignore the outcry over this issue.”Gab