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FactCheck: Is Sinn Féin right about how many gardaí Dublin's inner city has lost?

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck looks at a claim made repeatedly by Sinn Féin.

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RECENT FEUD-RELATED murders in Dublin’s north inner-city have intensified the focus on policing in that part of the capital.

One eye-catching claim has been the one repeated on several occasions by Sinn Féin, that the north and south inner-city have lost 140 and 160 gardaí respectively, between 2010 and now.

Is this true?

(Remember, if you see a claim that doesn’t sound right, email factcheck@thejournal.ie).

Claim: Dublin’s north and south inner-city have lost 140 and 160 gardaí each between 2010 and now.
Verdict: Mostly FALSE

  • The actual numbers are 97 for Dublin North Central and 141 for Dublin South Central
  • However, in response to our queries, Sinn Féin now says the figures its representatives were quoting actually apply to 2009-2015. In this context, the claim would be Almost Entirely TRUE.

What was said:

The claim appears to have first popped up on 25 May, when Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams used it in the Dáil, which he did again on 1 June.

Sinn Féin have since repeated it in two separate press releases, and earlier this month, Deputy Peadar Tóibín said on RTE Radio 1′s Late Debate:

One of the most startling figures for me, out of all of this is that particular area there, the north inner city, has lost 140 gardaí in the last five years.
The south inner city has lost 160 gardaí in the same period of time.

The Facts

16/7/2015. National Economic Forums Sinn Féin leader and deputy leader Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald, and Deputy Peadar Tóibín. Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Sinn Féin told us the information was given to Dublin Central TD Mary Lou McDonald by a “garda source”, and said “these figures are used internally by the gardaí.”

An Garda Síochána said they could not comment on “statements by named individuals”.

In response to queries for this FactCheck, Sinn Féin also said the claim was based on a comparison between 2009 (not 2010) and the end of 2015 (not “now”).

This is obviously a different time period to the one previously used by Sinn Féin, but let’s check both.

According to figures provided by the Department of Justice:

  • In 2010, there were 693 gardaí stationed in Dublin North Central. That fell by 97 (not 140) by 30 April 2016, to 596. So Sinn Féin are off by 31%.
  • The claim is much closer to the mark for Dublin South Central, where garda strength fell by 141 (not 160) from 771 to 630 over the same period. The party is off by just 12% in this regard.

The sense of Sinn Féin’s claim is right, though. There are fewer gardaí in Dublin’s inner city than there were in 2010, and the decline has been higher than the national average.

gardadublinnorthcentral

Only Dublin East (21.4%) and Cavan-Monaghan (19.7%) have seen a greater drop in garda numbers than Dublin South Central (18.3%), from 2010 to now.

And Dublin North Central has had the 7th-largest decline in gardaí, out of 28 garda divisions.

Nationally, there were 1,431 fewer gardaí stationed across Ireland in April 2016 than there were at the end of 2010 – a decline of 11.6%.

gardafall2010_2016

Here’s how Sinn Féin’s revised claim, modified in response to our queries, stacks up:

  • In 2009, there were 730 gardaí stationed in Dublin North Central. That fell by exactly 140, to 590 by 2015.
  • In 2009, there were 801 gardaí stationed in Dublin South Central. That fell by 174, to 627 by 2015.

Conclusion

This is a tricky one because Sinn Féin revised its claim – after it was put on the Dáil record and in public statements – in response to our queries.

But the modified claim is Almost Entirely TRUE.

In the case of Dublin North Central, their revised claim is spot on, and for Dublin South Central, they understate the reality by just 9%.

But the claim that has actually been made up to now, in writing, on the record of the Dáil, and by two different Sinn Féin representatives, is Mostly FALSE.

It overstates the reality for Dublin North Central by 31%, and for Dublin South Central by 12%.

To download a spreadsheet containing all the relevant data, click here.

Send your FactCheck requests to factcheck@thejournal.ie

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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