Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire.

Carrigaline plea heard in the Dáil

A Cork TD has asked the Government to “listen carefully and take note” as a Cork town continues to cry out for increased policing.

Speaking in Dáil Éireann yesterday morning, Wednesday, Sinn Féin TD for Cork South-Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said he has been asked by “countless” Carrigaline residents to raise the long-running issue surrounding crime prevention measures in the town.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire described Carrigaline as a town that had “exploded in growth” over the last 2 decades and that garda resources have failed to keep pace.

He also highlighted that 2 assaults that have taken place in the town recently, one of which resulted in the death of 29 year old Matt O’Neill. He said: “Carrigaline is quite a large town with 15,000 people in it. It has grown rapidly. As recently as 1961, there was less than 1,000 people in it. Amidst that growth, investment and resources have not followed adequately. Carrigaline is still dealing with crime prevention and garda numbers that reflect a time that the town was much smaller.

“There was an assault in late December, a very serious assault which sadly lead to the death of Matt O'Neill and we send our condolences to the family.”

He said: “In January there was a teenager stabbed and injured. Unfortunately, we have seen a number of these incidents over the last couple of years. It is quite shocking, it is upsetting to people in the town.”

Currently, there are 21 gardaí posted to Carrigaline Garda Station, which is less than the number of gardaí stationed in the town in summer 2020.

“At the moment there are 21 gardaí in Carrigaline. That’s 3 sergeants plus 18 gardaí. If you break that down, if you take away your 3 sergeants, if you take away the warrants and firearms officer, the 2 community gardaí and the detectives, you’re down to about 12 or 13 gardaí who are dedicated on a full-time basis to responding to incidents and to patrolling the streets,” said Deputy Ó Laoghaire.

Responding to the deputy, Minister of State at the Department of Justice, James Browne TD, said the garda commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of garda business which includes the allocation of garda resources, and the Minister for Justice, Simon Harris TD, has no direct role in the operational policing matters.

He highlighted plans to continue to recruit more members in 2023 to ensure a “strong pipeline” going forward.

He said: “The Government is committed to ensuring An Garda Síochána has the resources it needs with record funding of more than €2.14 billion allocated in the garda budget 2023.

“Comparing garda resources allocated at the end of 2015 with the end of last year, the Togher district, encompassing Carrigaline Garda Station, has witnessed an increase in garda members of over 57%.”

Deputy Ó Laoghaire replied: “It’s a bit peculiar to be making reference to districts given that the new operating model is based on the divisional model, so the districts aren’t really the metric anymore.

“I think comparing it with 2015, which was the very lowest point, is somewhat of a distraction.”