Wednesday, 3 October 2007
Kieran O'Donnell (Limerick East, Fine Gael)
I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing me to raise an important matter regarding Limerick. Last night, there were four shootings at three different locations in the city and people going about their daily lives in quiet family areas were subjected to indiscriminate shooting. Thankfully, no one was injured or killed, but it has brought to a head the issue of the 100 extra gardaí promised under the Fitzgerald report on regeneration projects. We are falling short of obtaining that many gardaí. Current Garda numbers remain at the same figure as 12 years ago, meaning we have barely caught up. Community gardaí are being moved from their frontline duties to specialist areas.
Will the Minister fulfil his commitment to Limerick of 100 extra gardaí? For several years, Cork has had fewer headline crimes and 100 more gardaí than Limerick. To date in 2007, Limerick has seen 80 firearm discharges, which is an increase of 33% since last year, and one murder. The situation in the affected areas is intolerable. Residents' concerns about criminal elements being rehoused in their areas should be taken on board by the local authority and the HSE through consultation because their fears are legitimate rather than based on snobbery.
I demand the extra gardaí needed in Limerick. The Fitzgerald report promised a superintendent to head the operation and made the vital recommendation of a Criminal Assets Bureau branch in Limerick to deal with hardline crime. A gangland element is amassing wealth and must be tackled head-on in a firm way. There is a case for an Operation Anvil-style measure for Limerick and an agency to address drug issues, specifically the heroin problem, must be set up. The four shootings in Limerick were related to drugs and other criminal activities that must be stopped.
Community policing is suffering due to the escalation in gangland violence. The Mayorstone and Mary Street Garda stations should be operated on a 24-hour basis to provide security. Suburban areas such as Castletroy, which has a population of more than 12,000, need Garda stations and have none. All large towns of more than 4,000 or 5,000 people have Garda stations that are manned full-time. Extra community police must be on the ground and walking the beat because people in Limerick city are entitled to feel safe in their beds and neighbourhoods, but the 100 extra gardaí promised in the report have not appeared.