Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has strongly criticised the Government over its cuts to frontline services that has seen Garda resources in rural areas decreased over the past number of years. The Ireland South MEP made the comments following a meeting in Nenagh on Friday with a delegation of North Tipperary IFA led by president Tim Cullinan and facilitated by Councillor Seamus Morris.
“There is a growing sense of alarm and fear amongst rural dwellers across Ireland as Garda stations are shut down and Garda resources remain underinvested. Figures from the Central Statistics Office show an increase in serious crime, with assaults, thefts and burglaries up 15% in the last year.
“The statistics support the stories that I am hearing across Munster and South Leinster, where farmers, older people and those living in small villages are becoming the targets of criminal elements. The huge invasive impact of a house burglary can be deeply traumatic for the victim, and the theft of machinery, tools or stock from a farm or small business can force closure in some cases.
“Thieves are acting with impunity as Gardaí do not have the resources to respond to calls or to fully investigate these crimes. The deterrent effect of having staffed Garda stations, a visible presence, and the possibility of a timely response have vanished from rural Ireland, and it is no surprise that crime figures have increased so dramatically.
“North Tipperary is fertile ground for thieves, with easy access and a quick getaway via the motorway. Preventing crime and bringing a sense of security to our rural communities needs to be a Government priority, but instead we are promised more of the same from Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil.
“The solution to this crisis is adequate resources for An Garda Síochána. If we want a modern and fit-for-purpose police force we need to invest as well as reform. The recent changes in operation and oversight only go part of the way. Investment and targeted resourcing is vital if we wish to protect our rural communities.”