Fianna Fáil General Election candidate Declan Breathnach has hit out at the Government for the rise in urban and rural crime in the last few years.
He says their cynical attempts to blame everyone else for the rising problems, as well as increased isolation in rural communities, will not wash with voters when the country goes to the polls either before or after Christmas.
In the build-up to the impending election, Cllr Breathnach has called on the Government to adequately resource Gardaí to ensure they are best placed to tackle growing crime rates.
He said: “In 2010 there were 314 Gardaí based in stations across Louth but by February this year that number was down 35 to 279. Fine Gael and Labour have allowed the strength of the Garda force to drop below 12,800 nationally and closed almost 140 local Garda stations across the country. In fact this Government’s commitment to rural communities has been abysmal.
“Communities in Louth are feeling increasingly isolated by the withdrawal of Government services. Ensuring the public are protected from criminals is a basic obligation of the Government and Fine Gael and Labour are failing in their duty.
“I welcome the fact that the number of Gardaí is starting to increase but I believe the strength of the Garda force was allowed to fall to a dangerously low level, dropping below 12,800 as of June this year. There are a further 1,498 officers eligible to retire this year. Fianna Fáil has committed to restoring the manpower of An Garda Síochána to 14,000. We need an appropriate and safe domestic policing and security strategy in place for all our communities in Louth and restoring Garda numbers to this critical level is key to that.
“In recent weeks the government has finally woken up to the crime wave in rural communities and is bringing forward legislation in response to the rise in burglaries. Fine Gael has also cynically sought to blame everyone else for the rise in crime and fall in morale amongst Gardaí. Our rural communities feel more vulnerable and more isolated because of the policies pursued by this government. Fine Gael and Labour cannot hide from that reality and their attempts to blame everyone else won’t wash with voters in Louth,” said the Knockbridge man.