GARDAI attached to the Thomastown Traffic Unit are stranded in the station with no official car leaving 100 kilmetres of the M9 motorway unmanned.
The nine members are reliant on their colleagues attached to the forensic unit who allow them the use of their Galaxy car, a people carrier which is incapable of travelling at high speeds. “We are down to using the Galaxy but it’s primary use is for forensics. It is completely unsuitable for patrolling the motorway as it has a diesel engine and cannot travel at high speeds. It is ridiculous that we are effectively not able to patrol the motorway and are forced to stay in the station. I am worried for public safety as there is a 100-kilometre stretch of motorway that is not being properly patrolled ,” said a garda source.
The traffic unit had been given the use of another car but that has reached it’s end of life earlier this month and is no longer in use. A motorbike, also attached to Thomastown district also reached it’s end of life earlier this year and has not been replaced.
The number of cars attached to the station has dropped sharply in the past 12 months. “There are only five cars in the whole district. There is one car in Mooncoin, one in Graignamanagh and three in Thomastown. It is almost impossible for us to do our duties. We have to beg, borrow and steal to get the use of a car and often we have to rely on Kilkenny and Waterford for back up. When the Canonball Run came to Kilkenny earlier this month all the traffic cars within the Kilkenny/Carlow region cars were deployed there which meant if anything happened in the district there was no traffic car to respond,” he said. A spokesman for the garda press office said ‘a full and comprehensive policing service’ continues to be delivered’ but added that it was policy not to refer to individual garda stations.