TWO GARDAI are recovering after being assaulted in separate attacks in the line of duty in recent weeks.
Garda morale in the city has reached an all time low with members working under stretched conditions and with diminishing resources. Mayor of Kilkenny Seán Ó hArgáin has strongly condemned the attacks and is calling for higher visibility policing in the city at closing times over the weekends. The Mayor congratulated gardai for their bravery in continuing to combat crime on our streets.
On Friday shortly before 8pm gardai were responding to a report of public disorder at St Francis Terrace. Two gardai were dealing with a group of young people when a fracas broke out. Back up was called for and more gardai were at the scene with minutes to bring the situation under control. As a result of the incident a garda was hospitalised at Waterford Regional Hospital where he is receiving treatment for a fracture to his elbow and facial injuries.
The previous weekend a garda colleague sustained a broken finger while trying to break up a fracas involving a large group of people on Rose Inn Street/Parade area of the city in the early hours of Sunday morning. This area has become a hotspot for public disorder at the weekends according to the Mayor.
Meanwhile gardai are coming under increasing pressure trying to cope with their workload and spirits are low among some members of the force.
“There are less gardai and less resources and garda cars so the risk is increasing for us all the time. Tougher sentencing in the courts might act as a deterrent,” said a garda source who admitted that garda morale is ‘at an all time low’.
“Morale has never been lower. We are been asked to do more and more with less resources. Members are being assaulted and in the case of Garda Adrian O’Donoghue murdered. Cuts in pay and allowances are also very demoralising,” he added.
Mayor Ó hArgáin said that recent attacks on members of the Garda Síochána in the city showed once again the bravery of members of the force in protecting and defending the local community.
“One of the attacks took place in an area that I have been highlighting as a major problem for quite a while. The combination of the effects of heavy consumption of alcohol and areas in which large crowds congregate including for late night take aways is lethal.
“The willingness of members of the public to inflict injuries on members of the force is a new development. Gardaí need to be properly resourced in order to stamp out this type of behaviour urgently. Again I have long asked for a high ‘yellow jacket’ presence at the weekends with gardai present outside pubs and nightclubs on the weekends and other busy nights. This needs to be supported by adequate back-up where necessary.’
The Mayor also conveyed his good wishes to the injured gardai and asked local citizens to act quickly in reporting incidents of anti-social behaviour saying that a huge amount had been done to improve the reputation of Kilkenny and that isolated incidents needed to be tackled. He also returned to his criticism of recent sentencing policy calling for strong action against anybody involved in any way in attacks on Garda members or other frontline service personnel.
Gardai are investigating both incidents which they are treating as extremely serious. Anyone who has information or who witnessed either incident can contact Kilkenny gardai in confidence on 056 772 22 22.