Just one garda car for Balbriggan in spree of burglaries
By Niall O'Connor and Tom Brady
ONLY a single garda squad car was available to police one of Dublin's largest suburbs during a night of multiple burglaries.
Fianna Fail has claimed that the entire district of Balbriggan was served by just one garda vehicle on November 2.
It comes as it emerged the Government has been forced to give an extra €51m to Justice Minister Alan Shatter to ensure gardai are paid their wages up until the end of the year.
The move to introduce a supplementary budget will be made in the Dail this week to offset a shortfall in funding for the force in the original 2013 estimate.
FF's Dublin spokesman Darragh O'Brien said he obtained information that four burglaries took place within hours of each other on the night that Balbriggan had one patrol car in the area.
The Balbriggan district serves a population of 50,000 and has been at the centre of a wave of burglaries in recent months.
But according to Mr O'Brien, a single patrol car was available to police the district on November 2. The Senator strongly criticised Minister Shatter and said that cuts to resources are having a detrimental effect on the ability of gardai to police suburbs like Balbriggan.
"On November 2, one garda car was available for the entire district. There were four burglaries that evening. The response time to calls that evening was between two and three hours.
"That is the type of policing our citizens are getting," he said.
Meanwhile, Garda budget shortages have been curbing the activities of some of the force's specialist units with operations temporarily put on hold until personnel were available for duty without incurring additional costs such as overtime.
Fianna Fail justice spokesman Niall Collins accused Mr Shatter of deliberately misleading the Dail about the garda budget on a number of occasions during the year.
He said the decision to bring in a supplementary estimate provided clear evidence the minister had not provided adequate funding for gardai at the beginning of 2013.
A spokeswoman for the minister confirmed last night that Mr Shatter's proposals would be put before the Oireachtas committee on justice, defence and equality on Wednesday for debate. It is expected it will then be tabled in the Dail the following day.