Lack of patrol cars in Border region makes policing area impossible, says GRA
New Garda cars being delivered in 2015. File photo. Photograph: Alan Betson
Almost two thirds of Garda divisions across the Republic have fewer patrol vehicles than at the start of the year, figures show.
An Garda Síochána figures show there has been a reduction in the number of cars and other vehicles available to gardaí in 18 of 28 Garda divisions between January and the end of September. Three more divisions recorded no change in their fleet size.
The Garda Representative Association has expressed concern about the challenge faced by gardaí in patrolling Border areas in the context of attacks on executives of Quinn Industrial Holdings due to a lack of resources. It has also said the allocation of more vehicles to specialist units such as armed support and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation had come “at the expense of frontline, community-based policing”.
GRA representative for the Cavan/Monaghan division, James Morrisroe, said the lack of patrol cars in the region was making it impossible to perform their duties along the Border.“It is simply not possible for frontline officers to do their jobs without the resources and tools to do so,” said Mr Morrisroe.
He claimed there would be a deficit of 10 vehicles available to gardaí in Cavan/Monaghan by the end of the year.
The latest Garda figures show the number of vehicles in the division is unchanged since the start of 2019 at 59, while numbers in Donegal are down by six to 67. The size of the fleet in other Border divisions – Louth and Sligo/Leitrim – is unchanged at 50 and 51 respectively.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said in numerous parliamentary questions in recent months that the resources provided by the Government to the Garda is at record levels, with expenditure of €1.76 billion this year including €10 million in capital funding for the purchase and fit-out of more than 300 new vehicles.
However, the latest official figures show the size of the Garda fleet is effectively static during 2019 with 2,762 vehicles at the end of September – three fewer than at the end of 2018. It represents a 3 per cent reduction in the Garda fleet from its peak of 2,840 vehicles in December 2016.
So far this year, 246 new vehicles have entered service but over the same period 249 have been withdrawn. Garda vehicles are withdrawn from service when they exceed their manufacturers’ durability limits which is generally 300,000km but can extend up to 500,000km depending on vehicle type.
Half of Garda vehicles are less than four years old.
Overall, there are 40 fewer vehicles available to gardaí across all divisions since the start of the year. The number of Garda vehicles in Cork city has decreased by nine over the period to 121. Other divisions to have at least five fewer vehicles available include Cork North, Limerick, Mayo and Tipperary.
Although some divisions in Dublin have experienced a reduction, the overall size of the fleet across the capital has increased by 17 to 528. In addition, the number of vehicles available to national units and Garda headquarters has risen by 37 to 804.
A spokesman for Mr Flanagan said the allocation of Garda vehicles was a matter for Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, in light of identified operational demand. “The Department of Justice and Equality has been assured that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources, including Garda vehicles, under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.”
GRA president Jim Mulligan said the figures were indicative of the under-investment in the force stretching back over many year and left gardaí in places like Cork and the Border region, in particular, short of vehicles.
“The organisation is still playing catch-up in areas such as vehicles, ICT and accommodation,” said Mr Mulligan.
Mr Mulligan added: “Our members are having to do more with less, which from a workers’ point of view makes an already pressurised job even more stressful and, in some cases, leads to a legitimate concern about their safety at work.”