Social Democrats Co-leader Róisin Shortall has described the second discovery of body parts in North Dublin this week as extremely worrying and said it was an exceptionally barbaric turn of events in what is already an extremely dangerous and violent culture around crime and in particular drug crime, across Ireland. She said that politicians across the political spectrum need to outline their approach to drug crime and it’s societal impacts.

Róisín Shortall said:

“While it obvious that what we are dealing with now are the gravest of crimes of the utmost seriousness which require specific and targeted resources to try to regain control of the situation, it is important to note that the roots of these serious crimes stem from the lack of early intervention and positive garda engagements with residents and community groups across local communities. Community policing is supposed to be a cornerstone of An Garda Síochána’s strategy. It promotes community engagement and develops public trust in the Gardaí, which reduces anti-social behaviour and juvenile crime. It is about taking a preventative, community-first approach to policing. The horrendous discoveries in North Dublin over the past few days, and the apparent age of one of the potential victims, serves to underscore the point about the importance of early intervention and prevention.

“The number of Community Gardái has been slashed in the past decade, with nine out of the past ten years seeing a reduction in the numbers across the Dublin Garda Divisions. This year saw a negligible increase of just three new Community Gardaí.

“Since 2009, the numbers have gone from 510 Community Gardaí in Dublin down to only 298 at the end of November this year. That’s less than 60% of the strength ten years ago.

“It is short-sighted and counter-productive to have slashed the Community Gardaí numbers over the past decade. The Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan has stated that an increased focus on this type of policing will improve safety in local communities, and yet we have not seen action to back up his words.

“In fact, the Garda Commissioner told the Justice Committee in September that community policing is central to its new operating model and that the target is for 50-60% of all resources to be devoted to this area. The Minister and the Commissioner need to follow through with real, immediate action because the reality is the number of Community Gardaí in Dublin is only 7.5% of the overall force – far from the target.

“There is an astounding disconnect between what the Minister and Commissioner are saying and the reality that the figures show for the past decade. We desperately need the full restoration of Community Gardaí to 2009 levels and a further increase to the target levels indicated in the new operating model, as well as a better follow through on their commitment to community policing. The narrative that these type of gangland crimes are somehow specific events contained to a particular feud and its associated geographic base is misleading and unhelpful. The impacts of these feuds and the associated violence crosses town and county boundaries. The reality is that the drugs trade and its impacts on society have not been adequately addressed by previous governments and we need to hear from politicians from across the spectrum as to what their party approach would be to tackling this scourge in Irish society which impacts on so many families either directly or indirectly. While these big, tragic, events make the headlines, there is a constant plague in local communities caused by the drugs trade in this country.

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