Fianna Fáil Deputy Dara Calleary has expressed grave concern at revelations that the number of burglaries in the Ballina area has doubled so far this year. The figures were confirmed to Deputy Calleary at a meeting of the Joint Policing Committee of Ballina Town Council this week.
According to local gardaí, there were 120 burglaries in the Ballina Garda District in the first 10 months of this year. This includes 39 houses, 20 vacant homes, 51 local businesses and five doctor’s surgeries. Dep Calleary said it is a major jump from the 60 burglaries recorded in the area over the same period last year.
“These latest figures confirm my fears of a surge in burglaries across Co Mayo and the Ballina area in particular this year. It is clear that locally based criminals are targeting homes and businesses in this area and there is no doubt that this has left people here feeling increasingly vulnerable,” said Dep Calleary.
“Great credit must go to the local gardaí who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their investigations of these cases at a time when their resources are already stretched to the limit. In the same period, there has been a substantial decrease in the number of assault cases in the town which is due to a concentrated effort by our gardai in this area. What we need now is a targeted response from the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner so that the necessary resources are provided to apprehend these criminals.”
Dep Calleary raised a special debate on the increase in burglaries in Co Mayo in the Dáil last week. He made a direct appeal to Justice Minister Alan Shatter to extend Operation Fiacla, which targets burglaries in Dublin and the commuter belt.
“The pattern of burglaries in Mayo suggests a very well prepared and organised group of criminals who are carefully observing people's movements and watching their homes. We need a targeted response like we’ve seen in Dublin, which allows the gardaí here to respond very quickly to these incidents. At the moment some areas are being targeted over two or three days so it’s clear that the criminal groups are spending a significant amount of time in each area,” the Mayo Deputy said.
"There is a need for community vigilance. People should not be afraid to contact the local gardaí or the Garda confidential line if there is any suspicious activity in your area."
The Fianna Fáil TD has also called on Minister Shatter to lift the ban on recruitment in the gardaí and stop his attack on rural garda stations and community garda resources.
“The Fianna Fáil alternative budget published last week provides specific funding to re-open the Garda Training College at Templemore next year. We cannot allow a situation where more and more gaps continue to appear in community policing at a time when the rate of burglaries, thefts and muggings are increasing so significantly,” Dep Calleary said.