*Photograph: John O’Neill

THERE is a better chance of spotting a leprechaun than a Garda on the beat in Co Clare, a Shannon public representative has remarked.

Most recent figures for the amalgamated Clare/Tipperary Garda Division show that as of November 30th 2023 there are 674 Garda members of all ranks assigned.

Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) tabled a parliamentary question to the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee (FG) to ask if she along with the Garda Commissioner would revisit the current policing model.

Deputy Crowe’s contribution came on foot of a motion before Clare County Council tabled by seven councillors which said the current model of policing was “not fit for purpose” and left people in communities feeling vulnerable.

Minister McEntee said the “new Garda Operating Model reflects and addresses the challenges of modern day policing by enabling specialisation in the delivery of key services and freeing up more Gardaí to focus on front line policing. It will particularly enhance the investigation of crime through the delivery of a greater range of specialised services in local areas such as the investigation of sexual crime, domestic violence, cyber-crime, and economic crime”.

Introducing the operating model was a recommendation by both the Garda Inspectorate and the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI), the Minister flagged. “The Operating Model introduces major changes to the structures of An Garda Síochána ensuring more front-line Gardaí, increased Garda visibility, and a wider range of policing services for people in their local area,” she added. “I believe that most people would agree that community policing has been at the heart of An Garda Síochána since its founding over 100 years ago, and I can assure you that the Government is committed to maintaining that tradition, so that all communities feel safe and are safe”.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting of Clare County Council, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) thanked Deputy Crowe for supporting their motion. “I think the people in the Oireachtas and the Minister for Justice is not living in the real world, we go to a lot of trouble to sending motions, the least we should get is an acknowledgement that there has been a deficiency in policing,” he commented.

“It would be easier to spot a leprechaun than it would be to spot a policeman on the beat. They have lost connection with local communities,” the Shannon representative said. He believed the response from Minister McEntee was “more lip service to the elected members of Clare County Council”.

Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) responded, “We have Oireachtas members in the gallery, hopefully he will take concerns on board” to which Cllr Flynn interjected, “It is the Minister that needs to take them on board”.

Cllr Tom O’Callaghan a co-signatory of the motion welcomed Deputy Crowe to the meeting. He believed the amalgamation was not working. Gardaí in Clare are “short-staffed” every Bank Holiday weekend, he claimed. “When they are not on the beat they are not doing the job for the people,” he added. Support for the views of Cllr Flynn were voiced by Cllr Michael Begley (IND).

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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