The announcement from Minister Frances Fitzgerald and the Garda Commissioner Noirin O Sullivan on Monday of a new 5 million Euro initiative to fight rural crime is welcome but far more could be done on this issue and there is a certain element of spin doctoring going on at the moment. The key to any increase in Garda activity is boots on the ground. We have got to return to a situation where local Gardaí are working with local communities because a lot of these major gangs and thugs are working on information that is coming from local sources. There are 1,500 Gardaí who are entitled to retire in 2015, so while the 600 extra Gardaí that are being trained are welcome and necessary, Garda numbers are not being increased at all. The new vehicles announced by the Minister are also welcome but we have to have Gardai who are trained to drive these vehicles and I hope that the money will be provided for that. The plan says that the top 200 burglars and six gangs are to be targeted but I would ask the question, why were these people not targeted up to now? You have to remember that there is an election coming up and there is a lot of hot air being spoken at the moment. More Gardaí on the ground in local areas is the key.
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