In response to the ongoing spate of violent attacks in Dublin, €10m in funding has been allocated to increase police visibility on the streets of the capital. However, while latest measure by the Department of Justice has been widely welcomed, it’s also been viewed by many as a short-term fix to what has become a much wider problem of escalating crime levels.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said that the allocation of €10m to fund overtime in An Garda Síochána would “help with the Garda commitment to continue to protect Dublin communities and ensure that the city is a safe place for all to live, work and visit”.
The funding will be used to increase deployment of the Public Order Unit and enhance Operation Citizen, set up in 2021 to provide a visible Garda presence in the city centre. However, it is only enough to cover overtime hours until the end of the year.
The President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), Brendan O’Connor, told ‘Emergency Services Ireland’ that while the €10 million was a welcome step, he added that in many ways it was “a sticking plaster approach” to a much wider problem.
“Simply providing more funds is not the answer as it means that you then rely on the same Gardaí to work longer hours which ultimately leads to Garda burn-out and will have a significant effect on their already stressed work-life balance,” he said.
Ireland has the 12th lowest number of police per capita out of 33 European countries, with a total of 13,982 Gardaí in the country at the end of July. Staffing figures show a 3.8% drop in the number working in the Dublin North Central Division – which includes Store Street, Mounjoy and Bridewell stations – since the start of 2023, the largest decrease in any division.
“The failure to meet Garda recruitment targets, increasing resignations and a move towards more specialisation is likely to impact divisions like North Central where significant numbers of Garda trainees have traditionally began their careers,” O’Connor explained.
“It’s a high-demand busy city centre location where junior Gardaí traditionally learn their trade quickly with many transferring to different locations or utilising their expertise and experience in a more specialised field of policing.”