There are 503 outstanding bench warrants across the Carlow-Kilkenny policing division, new figures from the Department of Justice show.
The information was provided to the Kilkenny People by local councillor and Chairman of Kilkenny’s Joint Policing Committee Patrick McKee. The figure of 503 is higher than that of neighbouring districts, such as Tipperary, Laois/Offaly, and Waterford.
Cllr McKee has linked the high number to 'a significant drop in Garda numbers, cuts to resources and closure of Garda Stations'. For example, in the Thomastown district, there are currently 21 fewer Gardai than there were in October 2010.
“The depletion of Garda resources, the closure of rural Garda Stations and the lack of Gardai in our communities combined with a dysfunctional bail system has resulted in rural crime spiraling out of control,” said Cllr McKee, who is running for Renua Ireland in the forthcoming General Election.
“It is absolutely clear to me and the wider community that both Fine Gael and Labour have gone soft on crime,” he said.
“The Government must ensure that our Gardai are properly resourced to tackle those criminals who are avoiding justice, rather than having our Gardai stuck in the station filling out endless sheets of paperwork. They need to be out in the community, not stuck in the stations.”
Cllr McKee said that Renua was the only party willing to introduce the type of measures necessary to deal with criminality in rural Ireland, and has called on the Government to establish an armed specialist rural crime unit that would be headquartered in Kilkenny and serve the entire south-east region. In recent weeks, Renua has also proposed a ‘three strikes rule’ for serious repeat offenders and says it would amend existing legislation regarding mandatory life sentences.