Peter Whelan, the Aontú representative for the Laytown-Bettystown electoral area, has told Meathlive, that the recent announcement by the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, of the addition of six probationer Gardaí to Navan, will not go near far enough towards tackling crime rates in Co Meath.

Speaking today, Mr Whelan said: “While I welcome all new recruits to our county, I still feel that the real numbers of Gardaí on our streets will not change. The reason being, that the numbers of gardai retiring, or worse still leaving, to start working in a different profession has been rising sharply. Aontú have received facts and figures in relation to Gardaí in this area which shows that the actual numbers of Gardaí in Meath haven’t really changed as much as the Minister for Justice is claiming”.

Mr Whelan continued: “While it is great to have six new probation officers join Navan Garda station, the figures that are not discussed are the numbers of Gardaí retiring or leaving due to stress or burnout.

In the last four weeks In Navan, two Gardaí retired and two more will leave in December.

If you take this into the equation, we can see that the Minister’s announcement amounts in reality to two more Gardaí for Meath.

“Back in the day the prison service was seen as the back door into the Garda Siochána, but now the situation has completely turned. There are currently 500 Serving Gardai waiting to join the prison service. The only way we can change this situation is to make the job of a Garda more attractive and also to give the gardai better resources. We in Aontú have introduced legislation in the Dáil to ensure a mandatory minimum prison sentence for anyone who assaults a Garda. If Minister McEntee is serious about increasing recruitment to the Gardaí then she must support this legislation”, concluded Mr Whelan.

On a national level, The Garda representative association recently furnished Whelan with figures showing the numbers of Gardaí eligible to retire in the coming years:

2023: 660

2024: 804

2025: 1,084

2026: 1,316

2027: 1,613

That amounts to a total of 5,477 according to the figures released to Mr.Whelan in the five years to 2027.