GARDAI attached to the Thomastown Traffic Unit have no official patrol car assigned to them making it almost impossible for them to carry out their duties.
It raises questions about how drivers will behave in the area the officers are supposed to monitor, from Bennettsbridge to Glenmore.
Bizarrely, the nine members of the unit, have been given the temporary use of a car which would not be capable of pursuing another vehicle in a high speed chase.
The officers, who are thought to be extremely unhappy about the situation, are more or less confined to barracks because of the scenario which highlights the Government cuts in garda budgets.
A senior garda source told the Kilkenny People that the unit was not able to properly police the area. “People can drive around at whatever speed they want and it is highly unlikely they will be caught,” he said adding that it was also unlikely that there would be cars available to man checkpoints over the coming weeks. “There is a bank holiday weekend coming up and normally there would be a high garda presence on the roads but I don’t see how that can happen this year,” he said.
The nine-member unit have been given the ‘temporary use’ of one vehicle - a Galaxy marked garda car - but according to the garda source that particular car would not be able to pursue another vehicle. “It would be unsafe to drive at high speeds in a chase. In any case that vehicle is attached to the forensic section of the station so we do not have first call on it. If it is at another incident then our unit has no vehicle to use. We are not able to get our own so the roads are left unpoliced. We are begging for cars, the men are available but there are no cars for them to use,” he said.
Previously they had two vehicles but when they were not replaced after they exceeded 300,000 kilometres two weeks ago the unit, which comprises of one sergeant and eight gardai, were given the temporary use of another vehicle which one garda source said is unsuitable.
The garda source said that the gardai attached to the unit are unable to fulfil their garda duties. “We are trying to keep busy. Up until three months ago we had a marked garda car and an unmarked patrol car but they reached the end of their life and we are left with nothing. Normally two of us would be out on patrol in one car and two other members would be out in the second car but now we are stuck indoors and not able to do our jobs,” he said.
On Friday the garda source said that they were informed that ‘Garda headquarters had washed their hands of the car situation’. “We were told that headquarters have said it is up to the Chief Superintendent to juggle the cars and that there is no funding available and there won’t be until 2013. There were eight cars attached to the station, now there is four and only one of those is a new car. At the rate this is going there will only be one garda car to police the Thomastown Garda area by next Spring,” he added.
A garda press office spokesman said that deployment of vehicles on the ground is a matter for the relevant Divisional Officers (Chief Superintendents) and section heads in specialised units who can allocate and reallocate vehicles to meet specific requirements.