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gra conference

Justice Minister rejects claim he's been 'negligent', says gardaí have 'record resources'

Flanagan said he will be meeting with the Garda Commissioner later today about the situation with feuding gangs in Drogheda.

JUSTICE MINISTER CHARLIE Flanagan has rejected claims that he is negligent and that gardaí are poorly resourced.

As the Garda Representative Association (GRA) annual delegate conference started in Killarney, Co Kerry, this morning, Damien McCarthy, who represents rank-and-file members in Dublin South Central, criticised the minister’s attitude towards garda resources.

He described the failure to address the problems with the garda budget and resources as “negligent”. McCarthy also said Commissioner Drew Harris’ decision to reduce the intake of new recruits this year from eight hundred to six hundred was “mind boggling.”

Speaking to reporters at the conference, Flanagan said there are “record resources for the gardaí under the current budget – €1.76 billion”.

He said from his discussions with garda management and rank-and-file members he was satisfied and he wants to see the money “wisely and efficiently spent”.

We have a total of 300 new vehicles coming on stream this year over 10% of which have already been purchased in the early part of the year. By the end of the year we’ll have 300 new vehicles. I’m satisfied that we’re rolling out state of the art ICT equipment. I’m committed as Minister for Justice to supporting the gardaí in their endeavours.

The minister’s speech to delegates was met with polite applause, in keeping with the usual response given to ministerial speeches at the annual conference.

Valerie O'Sullivan Valerie O'Sullivan

GRA President Jim Mulligan pointed out to the minister in his own speech that rank-and-file gardaí will be central to the change he and the Commissioner want to see in the force. 

“Being a police officer in 2019 places huge responsibility on the shoulders of GRA members,” he said.

Mulligan said his members are “weary” of hearing grand ideas that the State does not have the money to make a reality and they have “yet to see tangible changes to improve their working conditions”.

He described his members as “brave and decent people”, adding that “some of our colleagues have paid the ultimate price”.

Gang violence in Drogheda

The minister today also addressed crime in Drogheda, after an escalation of a gang feud in the town. 

In one night at the weekend there were three petrol bomb attacks on houses. There was extensive damage to one of the properties but no one was injured in any of the incidents. There have been 74 feud incidents in Drogheda since June last year. 

Flanagan said he was “very concerned about” this escalation of crime in Drogheda. He will be meeting Garda Commissioner Drew Harris about the situation later today.

Flanagan was pressed on his claim about checkpoints taking place in the town yesterday and about the Emergency Response Unit being deployed to the area – gardaí have said this was not the case. 

“Well I would be very keen to review this issue with the Garda Commissioner in order to ensure every effort is made to put a stop to the crime, lawlessness and most unacceptable behaviour on the streets of Drogheda,” he said. 

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald today also commented on the feud, telling reporters it is time for the minister to “step up to the plate” and ensure people in the area can feel safe on the streets and within the community.

Commissioner Harris will address delegates at the conference this afternoon. 

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