Department of Justice officials have come under fire over the makeup of a new anti crime body which is expected to replace the county's Joint Policing Committee
Senior officials in the Department of Justice have come under fire over the makeup of a new anti crime body which is due to replace the county's Joint Policing Committee (JPC).
The first meeting of a new community safety partnership scheme is scheduled to take place later this month under the stewardship of former Galway and Louth County Council chief executive Martina Maloney.
However, ongoing concerns over its size and statutory footing were relayed to Department of Justice chiefs in a letter sent by Longford County Council on behalf of Joint Policing Committee Chairperson Cllr Seamus Butler.
When details surrounding the department's response was aired at the local authority's monthly council meeting this week, Cllr Butler was quick to hit back.
"They didn’t change one iota with the response," he said.
"If they thought I was a thorn in their side before the Department of Justice has much more coming down the line as far as I am concerned."
Longford is one of three locations, alongside inner city Dublin and Waterford, chosen to launch the pilot initiative in an attempt to increase cooperation between local communities and the State in the continued fight against crime.
Cllr Butler's reservations were shared by fellow councillor and former JPC chairperson Cllr Gerry Warnock, who accused department officials of displaying "arrogance" towards local politicians in Longford.
"I think, to be honest, elected councillors and elected politicians are far too passive with department officials," he said.
"We really need our representative groups to step up to the plate and reinforce the very real issues councillors are facing and dealing with on the ground.
"The democratic mandate we have to deal with those issues is being totally and utterly brushed aside not only by this department but every other department we deal with.
"We really need to start looking at the future of local democracy and our input in these local committees because if we get any more passive we will be on the endangered species list and we will be railroaded time and time and time again."
For more on this story, see next week's Longford Leader.
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