ENNIS councillors have called for garda numbers in Clare to be restored, following a drop in strength of one sixth of the force since 2010.
Despite the drop in garda numbers, the Mayor of Ennis Municipal District (EMD) has congratulated Superintendent Derek Smart from the Ennis Garda District on what he described as “probably the best work done in the country”, following a crackdown by gardaí on moneylenders targeting vulnerable people.
The figures on the fall in garda numbers were outlined to Ennis Municipal District (EMD) councillors by Superintendent Smart during a quarterly meeting at County Hall.
He said, since 2010, 53 gardaí have retired, two have died and a further two resigned. In the past two months, two more gardaí have retired and three have commenced three-year incentivised career breaks, with four more to take this up before April 1, and another due for transfer.
As a result, Garda numbers in the Clare division are down by 53, or 16%, bringing substantial challenges to garda management in the division, Superintendent Smart said.
EMD councillors were unanimous in their support for gardaí and called for Clare to receive its proper share of new recruits and experienced gardaí to bring the numbers back up to full strength in the division.
Superintendent Smart outlined the numbers of offences in the division in 2014 and a comparison with 2013 showed that, of the 11 broad crime categories, five have decreased by a total of 179 crimes and six have seen an increase of 94.
Increases were recorded in homicide offence (2); sexual offences (11); assaults and related offences (12); kidnapping and related offences (1); robbery, extortion and hijacking (14); and controlled drug offences (46); while decreases were recorded in burglary and related offences (-22); theft and related offences (-45); fraud and related offences (-14); weapons and explosives offences (-8); and damage to property and the environment (-90).
Last year, the value of drugs seized in the Clare division was put at €2,174,090.
In Ennis, during 2014, there were 165 burglaries, 109 thefts, 86 thefts from cars and 170 incidences of criminal damage, councillors heard.
Councillor Pat Daly said, as a peace commissioner, he was very aware of the outstanding work of the drugs squad in seizing over €2m last year and called for the EMD to write to the Minister for Justice, the chief superintendent and the Clare Oireachtas members to press for numbers of gardaí to be restored to 2010 levels in the county.
“There are a lot of robberies in Ennis,” he said. “I highlighted this last week. In my own estate in the last 12 months, there have been five robberies. I’m calling on this council to write to the minister, the chief superintendent and Clare’s Oireachtas members to bring down Clare gardaí working in Dublin for the past four or five years. They’ve served their time there, now bring them home. We’re down 16% in Clare. It’s too muchb and we are suffering for it,” he said.
Mayor of Ennis Municipal District, Councillor Johnny Flynn congratulated the gardaí on their results, particularly in long-term comparisons, despite the reduction in numbers, and said he was particularly satisfied with the results from the significant resources put by gardaí into dealing with, “the despicable moneylending that was going on across society but particularly targeting people who were vulnerable”.
He said, ”You did extraordinarily well. I’ve seen it first-hand and there’s none of these cars hanging around outside post offices collecting money. That’s a huge success – probably the best work done in the country on moneylending.”