The local garda division has lost seven patrol cars and will likely have to retire others in the coming year, but the chief superintendent says they will make the most of their existing resources to keep crime levels from escalating.
“I have lost seven patrol cars in Kilkenny Carlow and I am going to lose more,” Chief Supt Mick McGarry told Kilkenny County Council’s joint policing committee in response to a query from Cllr Maurice Shortall (Lab) about the number of Garda cars being taken off the road because they are not covered by warranty after 300,000 miles.
“What we are doing is deploying the existing patrol cars where the greatest need is,” Chief Supt McGarry said, adding that he was “very hopeful that there will be something coming out at some stage that they (the Department of Justice) are going to purchase a new fleet, because it is badly needed.”
He noted recent comments in the Dáil from Justice Minister Alan Shatter that “they had been underfunded for some time.”
“The commissioner is looking very hard to see if they can get funding for patrol cars,” Chief Supt McGarry said. He said gardaí were also making arrangements on a regional basis.
There is also an issue with decreasing numbers of gardaí as those who retire are not replaced.
Referring to a meeting on public order, Cllr Pat Dunphy (FG) noted that “most people felt there was a big local aspect to this and that there should be a local garda visiting the areas twice a day.”
With committee members agreeing that low participation in Community Alert groups is a problem in some areas,
John Burke of the Community and Voluntary Forum said that “the ultimate solution is to deploy gardaí on the beat.”
“That would be my wish as well,” said Chief Supt McGarry, but “at a time when we are going to have diminished resources, that is going to be a very difficult outcome.”
“I have lost serious people throughout the year and I am going to lose more,” he said. “We can’t thin out people on the ground and say we want more people on the ground.”
Ultimately, he said, “that is a matter for local councillors to discuss with their TDs. That is what needs to be done.”
In response to a question from Cllr Anne-Maria Irish (FG) on whether spending cuts were having an effect on rural patrols, he said: “No, it has not been limited in the Kilkenny-Carlow division. While we have lost some people, we have made sure there is an active patrolling system in place.”
However, he said, “it has in certain parts of the country.”