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Saturday 30 September 2023 Dublin: 17°C
The Journal Teenagers in Newcastlewest turning over a car on one of the streets of the town last night.
# Newcastlewest
Government TD calls for action on garda resourcing as violence erupts on streets of Limerick town
The violence broke out as gardaí from the area were dealing with a fatality outside the town.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 1st 2022, 5:40 PM

A GOVERNMENT TD has called on the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to provide an adequate policing response in his constituency after violence broke out on the streets of a Limerick town.

Videos showed teenage boys and girls pushing a car over onto its side, causing damage to the vehicle and presenting a danger to passersby. They were also videoed fighting and smashing property as well as firing fireworks in Newcastlewest town centre last night.

There is also a video of boys throwing rubbish bins at a car. 

The violence broke out as gardaí from the area were dealing with a fatality outside the town in which a woman died in a two car-collision.

Multiple sources have told The Journal that, despite it being Halloween night, garda management had limited the allocation of overtime and this meant there were no extra gardaí drafted in to deal with the calls. 

Those sources said that local gardaí have raised concerns about staffing problems in the area. 

Niall Collins, TD, the Minister of State with responsibility for Skills and Further Education, said he recently met with gardaí to discuss the problems in the area.

He said that last night’s behaviour was unacceptable and called on the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to examine the situation around staffing in south County Limerick.

“A proper garda response is needed in the Newcastlewest area and people shouldn’t have to resort to calling Tralee or other stations in other counties.

“To keep our communities safe the Garda Commissioner must ensure that there is overtime provided and adequate transport not just in my constituency but in the wider Limerick,” he said. / YouTube

Sources also reported that members of the public had made calls for help to garda stations in Limerick city, some 40 minutes away, and also Counties Kerry and Cork as their calls went unanswered in Newcastlewest.

On one occasion a caller called Limerick divisional headquarters in Henry Garda Station in Limerick but was transferred to a garda station in Cork city to log the call.

There were also problems around a new Computer Aided Dispatch system reported by gardaí in the area. 

Lack of patrol cars

Those same sources also said that there is an ongoing problem regarding resourcing in the area which includes a lack of patrol cars on the coastal road near Foynes and Glin towards the Kerry border at Tarbert. 

A garda was injured last Friday night in the Rathkeale area in a ramming of a patrol car by a fleeing suspect – Rathkeale is a short distance from Newcastlewest. Those injuries are not believed to be life threatening but required hospital treatment.

Fine Gael Councillor and chair of the local joint policing committee (JPC), Adam Teskey, said the town was like a war zone overnight.

“It was frightening stuff, they caught a car below by the river and threw it up on its side, and then they were (throwing) pubic bins and throwing them at windscreens of cars, anything they could find they were throwing at cars,” said Cllr Teskey.

“What has come to the surface in our county towns and villages is absolutely nothing but the worst sort of vandalism imaginable.”

“This is the sort of stuff you would watch on the news in other countries. I might have to call a special meeting of the JPC because of the way things are going.”

A spokesperson confirmed that no arrests have been made following the incidents.

“Gardaí are investigating an incident of criminal damage where a car was damaged on the 31 October 2022 at 7.35pm in Newcastle West, Co Limerick. No arrests have been made. Investigations are ongoing.”

The spokesman added: “Gardaí attended an incident where a group of youths were reportedly setting off fireworks in the Square, Newcastle West, Co. Limerick at 6.40pm” but that “the group was gone on the arrival of Gardaí, and no arrests have been made, investigations are ongoing.”

“Gardaí were called to attend an incident on Maiden Street, Newcastle West, Co. Limerick at 7.20pm where a group of youths was reportedly letting off fireworks. They were gone on arrival, investigations are ongoing,” he added.

Garda resourcing

It is not the first series of incidents associated with garda resourcing as reported by The Journal.

Last week it was reported that widescale crime and anti-social behaviour had increased dramatically on O’Connell Street, Dublin. Retired garda Inspector Tony Gallagher said that Operation Citizen, a dedicated patrol in the area, was inadequately staffed. 

Previously it was also reported that similar issues with garda staffing was being experienced in Cork city.  

Last month a garda car was rammed in Cherry Orchard prompting comment from Government and assurances of greater garda resources to deal with anti-social behaviour. 

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee admitted in recent comments in the Dáil that there were a number of issues around recruitment to the garda college in Templemore. 

Just 24 recruits have entered the Garda college this year to date – she said that a further 70 new recruit gardaí were expected to begin training in November and December.

The amount of gardaí, McEntee admitted, had fallen over the last two years and now stands at 14,283 at the beginning of September. Up to the same period in 2021, garda numbers were 14,628.

An estimated 94 people will be recruited in total this year, up to 270 gardaí have retired from the force, as of September.

With additional reporting from David Raleigh