By Keith Bourke
Concerns about the level of Garda resources in Mayo were expressed at a meeting of the county’s Joint Policing Committee.
Chief Supt of the Mayo/Roscommon/Longford Garda Division Raymond McMahon told the meeting there are currently 338 officers in the county.
He said while he is ‘quite satisfied’ there are adequate resources, he stated that the establishment of specialised units has pulled officers from other areas.
“That’s the constant management of resources that I have to deal with,” said the Chief Supt, adding that the storing up of Covid leave that Gardaí are entitled to has also created staffing issues.
Some councillors strongly disagreed that there are necessary resources in place. Cllr Michael Kilcoyne cited a situation that recently featured on the front page of the Western People.
“I am not satisfied from what I hear on the ground from the public that you have adequate resources. Take for example the man who had to follow robbers in this town in his car because there were no resources available in Castlebar Garda Station to go out and deal with the incident,” said Cllr Kilcoyne. “The resources that are available are not adequate.”
Cllr Christy Hyland said there is a lack of ‘guards on the beat’. He said the streamlined ‘Smarter Policing’ approach is impacting towns like Westport and other areas of the county.
“The truth is you’re not being given the resources. In my view, the force is being managed like a private company, in a corporate manner,” said Cllr Hyland, who is a former detective garda. “The morale is gone. The people have lost touch with the guards, and the guards have lost touch with the people. This is the new policing model,” he added.
Chief Supt McMahon said he was ‘loath’ to discuss specific incidents.
“I will always need more people, but I have to manage what I have. That’s the bottom line,” he stated.
The Chief Supt said much of what Cllr Hyland alluded to was Government policy that he is bound to adhere to.