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29 Jan 2022

Garda chiefs under pressure to assign extra gardaí to Longford

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is facing mounting calls to assign extra gardaí to Longford

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris are facing mounting calls to assign extra garda manpower to Longford as a matter of urgency.

Elected members of the county’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) voted unanimously to back calls from Chairperson Cllr Seamus Butler to write to Commissioner Harris over the issue.

The appeal was made after a meeting heard this week of how recent moves to reshape the Gardaí’s organisational structure on a national scale could impact the day to day running of policing across the county.

Fianna Fáíl Cllr Joe Flaherty said plans to amalgamate the current Roscommon/Longford Division with Mayo and relocate its headquarters 140km away to Castlebar would likely inflict untold damage on policing capabilities locally.Garda chiefs under pressure to assign extra gardaí to county

“My concern is based on information in the public forum at the moment, I can’t see how we will get to retain a superintendent in Longford,” he said.

“To be left without a sitting superintendent in the county town would be a major concern.”
Cllr Flaherty said his other major cause for angst was over the deployment of a new Armed Support Unit (ASU) earmarked for Cavan.

The Fianna Fáil general election candidate hinted at whether garda bosses were looking at drawing serving personnel from counties such as Longford to underpin the new armed unit.

Should those measures come to pass, Cllr Flaherty said the combined looming uncertainty over Brexit would invariably signal the “death knell” for any future armed patrols here.

They were anxieties Longford based Supt Jim Delaney gave further weight to.

“I would share your concerns,” he told Cllr Flaherty.

“Certainly there is a movement of resources from this region into that area (and while) we welcome higher visibility and I am just a little concerned that is going to be lost in this latest plan because obviously Peter has to be robbed to pay Paul.”

Chief Supt Tony Healy said although there had been a strengthening of garda middle management with the additions of two sergeants in the Granard Garda Division as well as a similar proliferation of inspectors in Longford, the need for additional frontline personnel was obvious.

“We (gardaí) have looked for additional resources but obviously it is a matter for the commissioner to allocate resources where he sees needs greatest priority,” he said.

“What I see, Longford and Granard are my greatest priorities because that’s where the greatest level of crime is being committed, where the greatest need is and any guards that do come to the division Granard and Longford will be the two top priorities.”

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