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Kildare has 40% fewer gardaí than any other part of the country

Fianna Fáil TD Frank O’Rourke is asking for a reallocation or redistribution of resources to Kildare.

File photo of Rathangan Garda Station in Kildare
File photo of Rathangan Garda Station in Kildare
Image: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

KILDARE HAS ONE garda for every 680 people in the county – compared to the national ratio of 1:450.

One of the largest towns in north Kildare, Celbridge, has a population of 22,000 but only 11 gardaí and no full-time garda station. At one stage 22 gardaí were based in the town.

Fianna Fáil TD Frank O’Rourke brought up the issue in the Dáil, asking for a reallocation or redistribution of resources to Kildare.

The university town of Maynooth has a population of 15,000 and over 12,000 students but no full-time garda station.

He added that Clane and Kilcock each have a population of 6,000, but their garda numbers are seven and 10, respectively, and there is no full-time garda station in either town.

O’Rourke explained that there are additional resources in Leixlip and Naas because they are the locations of garda divisional headquarters.

The figures are skewed because gardaí are allocated to the drugs unit and the traffic corps. While the numbers of gardaí may be higher than in other towns in north county Kildare, they are not actually in a position to do the day-to-day community garda work required.

He added that if a garda station is not operating effectively, it takes longer for gardaí to respond to a burglary or a road accident.

With a reduced number of gardaí, there is reduced visibility, a reduced presence and, obviously, reduced policing, which has an impact. The more gardaí there are, the better the visibility and presence, which gives everyone a sense of positivity.

“Overall, we need increased numbers to bring the ratio of gardaí to population in county Kildare closer to the national average of 1:450.”

‘Need for extra resources’

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan said that the distribution of gardaí is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner and that he has been assured the policing arrangements across the country are continually monitored and reviewed.

“I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the overall strength of the Kildare division as of 31 January 2018, the latest date for which figures are available, was 357, a 14% increase on the number at the end of 2015.”

He added that the strength of the Leixlip and Naas Garda districts increased by 28% and 9%, respectively, over the same period.

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O’Rourke said he acknowledges the additional gardaí and accepted the percentages quoted by the Minister, however he added:

The point I was making is that, even at that level, they are probably replacing others and the numbers are probably not growing at the rate we would wish, given the gardaí coming in are dealing with the work of gardaí who are being transferred or are retiring.

“Proportionally Kildare still has 40% fewer gardaí than any other part of the country … there is a need for extra resources over and above what the Minister has mentioned.”

The Kildare local economic and community plan 2016-21 identified 15 garda stations in full-time operation in Kildare, the second lowest rate of garda stations per 10,000 head of population nationally.

Kildare also has the lowest rate of gardaí in the country, with 15 gardaí per 10,000 head of population.

On the other end of the scale the greatest density of gardaí is seen in Sligo/Leitrim, Westmeath, Roscommon/Longford, Limerick, Clare, and Dublin – all of which have one garda for less than every 400 people.

Read: Some western counties have nearly twice as many gardaí on the streets as those in Leinster – but why?>

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