Sinn Fein TD for Meath West Johnny Guirke has said that despite having a Minister for Justice living in the County, Meath is still overlooked when it comes to Garda Numbers.

He told Meath Live, “When this Government was formed in July 2020, we saw that the role of Justice Minister was handed to Minister Helen McEntee, and people genuinely thought the numbers in the County would increase. 

“Over two years have passed and Meath is still at the bottom of the table when it comes to Garda Numbers per head of population, which works out to about one Garda for every 666 people.

“Meath is the fifth largest County in the state, and despite having over 220,000 people living in the county, we have just around 330 Garda serving the People of Meath.

“Other counties across the state with smaller populations have a better ratio for Garda with Waterford one Garda for 332 people, Tipperary has one Garda for 419 people and Wexford one Garda for 480 people.

“Just this week, I listened to the president of the Garda Representative Association Brendan O Connor speaking on LMFM where he said his members are not getting the support and resources needed, they have lost over 300 staff in the last two years despite a promise of extra Garda for 2022

“We learned that just 94 Garda will be in service by the end of this year, a huge fall from the promise of 800 staff.

“GRA President Brendan O Connor said that the promises coming from above don’t materialise in the end, and they are now having to move pieces around the chess board when it comes to staffing issues.

“The two Garda assaulted in Ballyfermot this week were actually drafted in to cover shortages of staff and that the female Guard was in fact a probationary Garda.

“It’s also more worrying that the GRA President Brendan O Connor stated that refresher courses are not taking place for members and the certificates for use of batons and handcuffs are expired but the people high up in authority are using Covid to hold up these courses.

“Staff are constantly pulled out of stations like Oldcastle and Athboy to cover shortages of members across the County.

“There is a revolving door when it comes to Garda staffing as one new member joins and another retires, but it isn’t just members leaving after 30 years’ service now, we hear that members with a few years under their belt are leaving stating it’s not the job they thought it would be.

“The Minister has stated she is targeting 15,000 members for 2023, but I’m afraid that this number may still be too short to tackle crime gangs, anti-social behaviour and incidents like we saw in Ballyfermot this week. 

“Once again, I call on Minister McEntee to push for a Garda station for Johnstown or at least a substation as the population is exceeding 12,000 people.

“I also call for extra Garda staff for the county, to bring us in line with our population.”

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