'We need more gardai – so lift the hiring ban'
Lift the ban on garda recruitment. That was the unanimous plea to Justice Minister Alan Shatter from Wexford county councillors last week.
They unanimously passed a motion tabled by Gorey representative Malcolm Byrne seeking an adequate police presence in County Wexford.
The Fianna Fáil man was concerned that the county has fewer than 18 gardaí per 10,000 head of population.
This compares with an average of 25 Gardaí per 10,000 head of population across the State, putting Wexford down at the lower end of thenational rankings.
'We have reached a dire stage,' he lamented, particularly concerned at the rising number of burglaries. 'Wexford is not getting its fair share of gardaí. The security of the State will be under threat very soon if we don't start recruiting.'
Cllr John Hegarty (Fine Gael) agreed that the allocation of gardaí is a hot topic in Gorey district.
While he felt it was important not to frighten people concerned about their safety, he insisted that the matter should not be allowed to fall off the agenda.
His Fine Gael party and Gorey district colleague Michael Kinsella was concerned that a small criminal element, originally from Dublin but now settled in Wexford, was acting a conduit for crimes.
Robbie Ireton of Labour added his worry that, during the recent Bank Holiday weekend, the residents of Gorey and Courtown and all the visiting holiday makers had just one sergeant and four gardaí on duty at times.
'It would frighten you,' he commented. 'This whole thing is a shambles. We need gardaí on the beat.'
Cllr Tony Dempsey (FF) observed that prevention is better than cure and pointed out that most of the prisoners in Mountjoy are early school leavers.
Pat Codd was not in a panic, stressing that crime rates are down and that Wexford is not a lawless county.
However, Cllr Keith Doyle (FF) felt there must be something wrong with a system where it can take more than an hour waiting to have a form signed at a Garda barracks.