It is "madness" that a new major Garda HQ for Galway has opened on the east side of the city, but there are "deep anti-social problems" causing distress to people in areas "within a few minutes drive of it".
This is the view of Sinn Féin Galway West general election candidate Mairéad Farrell, who is calling for gardaí to be given "immediate additional resources" to tackle the anti-social behaviour "persisting in estates across Galway city".
According to the Garda Commissioner's report to the Policing Authority at the end of the summer, there was an overspend in Garda pay due to overtime, and the service was over budget by €4.5 million by the end of July. In order for the Garda spend to come in on budget, the Commissioner looked for cuts to operational policing.
'It should be a very basic demand for people to feel secure and safe in their own home and in their community'
Ms Farrell said a point of concern is the loss of Garda personnel in community policing in the city. In 2010 Galway had 22 community gardaí, but as of October 2019 there are only 13 - a loss of nine gardaí, or a decrease of 41 per cent. Limerick and Cork have nearly three times this level of community gardaí with 32 and 33 respectively.
"Anti-social behaviour is a long-standing issue in parts of Galway and it seems to have got worse," she said. "It is unacceptable that people should live in fear of criminals or anti-social elements in any part of Galway. It needs to be stamped out, and only extra Garda resources will do that."
As a result, Ms Farrell is calling for extra resources for gardaí in Galway and for the reinstatement of the nine community gardaí. "We are heading for a long winter in Galway with gardaí being pulled and stretched in every direction," she said. "More gardaí on the beat is the best way to combat criminality. It should be a very basic demand for people to feel secure and safe in their own home and in their community."