Breen highlights Clare Crime Statistics during Fine Gael Private Members Debate on Crime.

February 6th, 2010 - Pat Breen

I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this Debate here tonight. There were 53 murders in this Country last year, one murder every week. As well as the increase in gangland crimes in this Country, there has been a marked increase in the number of Aggravated burglaries and assaults which in my view is being fed by our growing drugs problem and is causing havoc in our Communities. We had an incident on the streets of Ennis when a young parishioner of my own, Brian Casey lost his life in a callous and senseless way.

In the past 12 months; there was a 28% increase in the number of detections for drugs in Clare, 88 people were picked up Drugs Offences alone, which shows the huge extent of the problem and to compound our difficulties, we have to contend now with the emergence of Head Shops. A leading Clare psychiatrist warned today that lives will be lost if there shops are not regulated and Minister there is an onus on this Government to act immediately and put the necessary regulation in place.

The reality is that No Community is now immune from the impact that this growing drugs problem and in recent time, we have seen a spate of burglaries in the County and people are now really worried. In Shannon Town, for example there have been a number of violent raids on local businesses and it not just Shannon which has to contend with this growing criminal activity. Elderly people living in isolated rural areas are being preyed upon, and in a despicable move criminals have been masquerading as Council Workers and Gardai taking advantage of the recent bad spell, gaining admittance to people’s homes under the guise that they are there to help them with their broken water pipes or checking out if they are safe. There were 20 incidents of Robberies of the Person recorded in the Clare Division for 2009 compared to only 6 in 2008, the reality is that robberies are on the increase.

Yes An Garda Siochana are doing an excellent job but they must be given the resources to get on with job. When those resources are provided, results are delivered. Take for instance, the number of Public Order Offences in Ennis, where there were normally around 19 a week that has been reduced to 4 per week, why, because of the impact of CCTV. The Gardai are able to monitor the situation from the Station and at the first sight of trouble they can intervene and dispatch a Squad Car immediately to the scene of trouble.

The best way to police our communities is to have Gardai on the Beat on our Streets. The recruitment freeze in the Public Service is having a huge affect on Garda Numbers. In the past 12 months, 800 Gardai retired from the Force, when only 400 was anticipated. In the Clare Garda Division, a vacant position of Chief Superintendent has not been filled since the previous Chief retired in December last, I hope this position will be filled in the very near future.

The shortage of manpower must be addressed in light of the explosion in Crime but Criminal Justice System must also be reformed.

How many times have the Gardai spent endless hours pursuing a conviction and when the case comes up before our Courts, that criminal is back on streets again where they are free to commit more crimes. 28,000 crimes including 8 murders were committed in 2008 by suspects freed on bail. One of those cases was the murder of a mother of two from Sixmilebridge, where the killer was out on bail at the time of her death accused of two other vicious crimes. Our Bail Laws need to be tightened.

We also need action on the inconsistencies in sentences handed down by our Courts, many of which are far too lenient, 25 years for murder, should mean 25 years. People in this Country no longer feel safe on our streets or in their homes and it time for this Government to get real and enact the necessary legislation and provide the necessary resources so that the battle against crime can be won.