Ó Murchú: Gov Need to Get Realistic over Garda Resources

The lack of resources for policing Dundalk and North Louth, while Gardaí should be preparing for Brexit in less than six months’ time, was “laid bare in a frank and shocking fashion” at the public meeting of the Joint Policing Committee in Carlingford, according to Sinn Féin’s Ruairí Ó Murchú.

“Louth Garda’s Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan was “very forthright” in his assessment of the resources available to Gardaí in this area” Cllr. Ó Murchú said, “and highlighted, a number of times, the ‘deplorable’ state of Dromad Garda station on the border.”

The meeting, which was held in the Four Seasons Hotel, heard from CS Mangan about how he has been ‘forceful’ in his pleas to the Assistant Commissioner for more resources, including better Garda stations, and for more cars, particularly for the community policing units in Dundalk and Drogheda, which currently have none.

Cllr. Ó Murchú said; “CS Mangan was articulate and very forthright in his assessment of the resources needed immediately for policing in Dundalk and North Louth. It was shocking to hear how he has been asking repeatedly for an upgrade for Dromad station, which he said is in a ‘deplorable’ state. In addition, he revealed that he has been involved in planning for policing post-Brexit, which he admitted will take a huge amount of resources.

“And on top of this, this is one of the busiest districts in policing terms in the State.”

Cllr Ó Murchú said “It is clear there are serious problems in this area and Garda management have to listen to what CS Mangan is saying. And more importantly, the government, who are framing the budget next week, have to give proper and realistic regard to the additional resources needed, not only for everyday policing – which is clearly suffering – but also to prepare adequately for Brexit.

“In the wider context, the government needs to ensure there is no intensification of customs and security checks at the border and for this to happen, the experts now widely agree, means the North has to stay within the customs union and the single market.”

Adams concerned at depletion of Louth Garda Fleet

Sinn Féin Deputy Gerry Adams has contacted the Minister for Justice regarding the reduction in Louth Garda Síochána vehicle numbers which was recently confirmed to him.

The Sinn Féin TD said;

“I have brought my concerns regarding the fleet of vehicles at the disposal of  An Garda Síochána across the Louth Division to the attention of the Minister for Justice.

“In July I enquired, via parliamentary question, as to the number and type of Garda vehicles attached to the Louth division.

“The Justice Minister confirmed that the total fleet for Co Louth is currently 50 vehicles.

“This is a reduction of 7 vehicles from 2017 and I have asked the Minister to outline the reason for this reduction.

“Local gardaí have also indicated to my colleagues in Louth County Council that at least 1 Garda vehicle is out of commission following a ramming incident in Dundalk.

“Additionally in July I wrote to the Minister enquiring about the bus which had been at the disposal of the youth diversionary and community policing unit in Dundalk.

“I have still not received any response to this enquiry.

“This Minister is aware of the difficulties in policing the border area and of the criminal gangs which are operating on a cross border basis.

“It is essential that Gardaí in Louth are mobile and can respond to incidents and requests for assistance.

“Many rural Garda Stations are only open for a few hours per day.  In light of this it is even more essential that the fleet in Louth is properly resourced.”

Adams calls for an accountable DPP

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams, speaking during this evening’s Fianna Fáil Private Members Debate on the Shane O’Farrell case called on the government to establish a Public Inquiry into the case and to take steps to ensure that the DPP is made more accountable for the inexplicable decisions it takes, including in relation to the O’Farrell case.

Gerry Adams said:

“The death of Shane O’Farrell on August 2nd 2011 was a devastating blow to the O’Farrell family. So too has been the catalogue of incompetence, and the appalling decisions made by An Garda Síochána, the DPP and the Justice system which allowed Zigimantas Gradzuiska to be free to kill Shane and then leave this state.

I want to extend my solidarity to the O’Farrell family, particularly Lucia, for their courage and persistence in seeking justice. Like other citizens who suffer an injustice they’ve had to take on the entire state.

Sinn Féin has put down an amendment to the Fianna Fáil motion seeking the establishment of a Public Inquiry. We think that a Public Inquiry is best placed to get all of the facts. I would therefore appeal to Fianna Fáil to accept our amendment and join with us in seeking the best outcome for the O’Farrell family”.

The Louth TD specifically raised the role and accountability of the DPP. Teachta Adams said

“The constant refrain of the government is that the DPP is independent and that it has sole responsibility to decide when and if charges are brought in any given case. But the DPP’s role in the Shane O’Farrell case raises significant concerns about its competence.

In addition, we know that in the case of Crevan Mackin, who shot and killed Garda Tony Golden, that a decision was taken by the DPP not to charge him with offences that he had admitted, including the possession of weapons and explosives.

One of these weapons was almost certainly responsible for the murder of Garda Golden and the grievous wounding of Siobhán Philips.

And then there are the serious questions arising from the DPP’s decision to prosecute people over the incident at Jobstown, involving former Tánaiste Joan Burton.

A Áire there has to be an oversight body which can hold the DPP to account for the inexplicable decisions it takes.

In November 2016 the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny met the O’Farrell family and told them he would ask the Attorney General, and I quote, to “request the Law Reform Commission President Mr. Justice John Quirke to examine how we can reform the law to provide enhanced public understanding for significant decisions made whilst fully preserving the independence of the Director of public Prosecutions.”.

Nothing more was heard of this proposal. I have written to the Minister on this matter. But so far without a reply. Although I have learned prompt and clear replies from this Minister are rare.

Can the Minister clarify the status of the former Taoiseach’s request to the Law Reform Commissioner?

Was the request ever made?

Did the Law Reform Commission President ever agree to undertake this work?

The DPP has to be accountable for its decisions. The government has a responsibility to ensure that this happens”.

Cllr Antóin Watters Welcomes Additional Garda Numbers

Following the latest meeting of the Dundalk Local Policing Forum, Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has welcomed plans for additional Garda resources to the Omeath/Carlingford area.

Cllr Watters said “I have been concerned at the reduced numbers for some time now. Over the past six years we have seen the Garda resources, especially in rural areas, cut to the bone.  Omeath and Carlingford are busy tourist areas as well as being a large residential area and they are just as entitled as other citizens to a Garda presence and decent resources. Locals have consistently raised their concerns with me and hopefully this will go some way to alleviating those worries.”

New Domestic Violence protocols needed by Gardaí – Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams today raised the issue of Domestic Violence legislation in the Dáil and in particular the case of Siobhan Phillips, a victim of domestic violence who was shot along with Garda Tony Golden in October 2015.

Speaking in the Dáil Teachta Adams said:

“I want to ask the Minister about the Domestic Violence Bill 2017. The purpose of this Bill is to consolidate and update the Domestic Violence Bill 1996 and the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2002 into a new comprehensive Bill.

As you may be aware Minister Siobhan Phillips, a young woman who was grievously wounded in the same shooting in which Garda Tony Golden was killed, was the victim of sustained domestic violence.

Two days before she and Garda Golden was shot she went to Dundalk Garda station where despite obvious injuries she wasn’t able to make a statement and there was no private location for her in the station to speak to the Garda about her injuries.

Now the objective of the Domestic Violence Bill is, among other things, to make it easier for victims to avail of the court system and to link them with support.

But there is clearly a need for Garda protocols and facilities based on best international practise to allow victims of domestic abuse to have their complaints dealt with in a therapeutic and appropriate manner.

So when is the does the Minister expect this Bill to complete its legislative journey and when will it be enacted?”

Minister Bruton, standing in for the Taoiseach, said that it was in committee stage in the Seanad.

Commenting later after raising the issue in the Dáil the Sinn Féin leader said:

“It is not acceptable that victims of domestic violence are unable to make complaints to An Garda Síochána in a proper and fitting environment. The trauma of domestic abuse is significant. Women’s Aid reported in 2015 that there were 16,375 incidents of domestic violence in the state. One in three women has experienced psychological abuse by a partner while 15% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner.

We need protocols and resources put in place to provide for the victims of abuse to feel safe and confident to tell their stories to a trained Garda officer in a therapeutic setting.”