LOOKING FOR ANSWERS Cllr Christy Hyland has lodged questions in relation to garda resources ahead of a meeting of the county's JPC this Friday.
Hyland lodges questions to JPC over garda numbers
Large swathes of Mayo are being left with little or no Garda cover because the force’s new operating model is ‘a disaster’. That’s the powerful message from Cllr Christy Hyland as the county prepares for the summer tourist season, when thousands of tourists will flock in and stretch Garda resources even further.
“We hear Garda officials in Phoenix Park talking about ‘smarter policing’ and the difference it will make to Ireland. Well, I can tell them, it’s certainly making a difference, but not in the way they’re talking about.
“I was proud to serve in the force for 30 years when the guards knew the people and the people knew the guards. It’s a shambles right now, and that’s not the fault of those on the ground; it’s all down to Garda HQ in Phoenix Park and the Department of Justice. They tick boxes, they fill out forms, but the people are suffering,” the former Detective Garda told The Mayo News.
Prompted by an incident on Saturday, May 21, whereby just two outdoor garda were reportedly on duty in the whole west Mayo region, Cllr Hyland has tabled a question for next Friday’s Joint Policing Committee meeting asking whether such low levels of coverage in the area are a regular occurrence. This huge swathe of coastline encompasses the towns of Louisburgh, Westport and Newport, as well as the tourist hotspot of Achill.
“I’m very interested in the answer to this question. I have a very good idea of what that answer will be, and people will be stunned to realise that the massive area is regularly left with hardly any Garda cover. Again – that’s not the fault of the Garda authorities locally. They’re just working with the resources they’re given. However, the situation is hugely dangerous and people are being left unprotected.”
Hyland went on to recount another troubling incident in which a local business was broken into recently, saying no gardaí were available to attend the scene.
“A premises was being burgled. The alarm went off. The owner could see the burglars on his phone. He called the guards. They told him there was nobody available to respond. He went to the premises himself. They were making their getaway. He followed them. He phoned the guards again, but there was still nobody available to help.
“This happened just miles from our county town. It’s beyond disgraceful. It’s frightening. The people of Mayo are being left defenceless by this new policing model. Something must be done to fight back. Something must be done to reverse the trend. We have to demand change,” he stated, before adding that Garda officials are implementing even more changes over the coming months.
“We once had six superintendents here in Mayo, each one over their own district. Soon we will have just two. Those numbers tell us all we need to know as we move into a time of the year when the population of our county will double for the summer season.
“Our guards need support and our people need to feel secure.”
The next meeting of the Mayo Joint Policing Committee will take place on Friday next, June 10, at 11am in Áras an Chontae in Castlebar.
Cllr Hyland has tabled the following questions for the meeting:
“How many Gardaí were on outdoor duty on Saturday night, May 21, in Westport, Louisburgh, Achill and Newport between 7pm and 7am? Is it happening on a regular basis that two gardaí are on duty between Achill and Leenane? How many Gardaí were on foot patrol in Westport town for the last eight Saturday nights?”