*Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF). Photograph: John Mangan
RINGING AN Garda Síochána is ‘like ringing Eir’ with the lack of urgency to calls, an East Clare representative has claimed.
Speaking at the September meeting of the Killaloe Muncipal District, Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) voiced worries for the future of An Garda Síochána. “My concern and the concerns of a lot of people is policing is to look after the people, the way policing is gone it is more like a business and all based on stats which I’d be very fearful of”.
Falling numbers of Gardaí is causing apprehension, he stated. “It has happened on a few stations that you would ring the station in Sixmilebridge but it is transferred to Shannon and it rings out. We feel like Eircom now, if you ring you’re left on the never never, the people need to be able to get through to someone”.
People no longer the name of their local Garda, Cllr O’Callaghan lamented, “we’ve gone away from the model of being able to sort things and we’ve the book brought out”. He commended existing officers of the Gardaí for the pressures they are under in the job.
Superintendent of the East Clare Tipperary North Community Engagement functional area, Ollie Baker explained that with the new dispatch system all calls are put through to the control centre in Cork, “they have through mapping and can see where nearest car or resource is for that call to service, that will dictate the urgency or immediacy of the response required”. He added, “With this change has come a more modernised 21st century police force”.
He said he would speak with Supt Ryan based in Ennis regarding the transfer of calls to ascertain greater detail.
Clare has not benefitted as much as Tipperary with the amalgamation of the Garda Divisions, Cllr O’Callaghan felt. “The sun is shining so we have to keep positive. I fought hard with Cllr Burke on the JPC to keep Ennis as the new centre but did it really happen”.
“It did,” the Supt responded. “All the Superintendents have Tipperary numbers,” Cllr O’Callaghan observed to which Supt Baker pointed out that the Chief Superintendent is primarily based in Co Clare.
Cllr O’Callaghan replied, “They are all Tipperary numbers but it is the Gardaí on the ground that we want, community policing model is the one we want and you’ve spoken about it, prevention is better than cure”.
Criticism of the dispatching from Cork was voiced by Cllr Pat Burke (FG). “I disagree that when you ring and get through to the call centre in Cork that it finds the nearest car, it doesn’t work in my experience in the periphery of East Clare”.
He recalled that there had been a “serious aggravated burglary” in Whitegate and two hours later a Garda based in Shannon was knocking on his door. “Another woman was gone to 7pm mass and her house was robbed when she left. Criminals don’t know boundaries, by the time the Garda from Killaloe gets to Whitegate they are gone as far as Ballinasloe, nobody has been caught or charged in those instances”.