Belfast Telegraph

Garda claim cuts on border are 'facilitating terrorism'

By Greg Harkin

Years of cuts to garda numbers in border counties have helped terrorists, officers in the Republic warned yesterday.

The claim came as the PSNI said dissident groups were planning a number of attacks here over the coming weeks, following a bomb in east Belfast that hurt a prison officer.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) warned that a lack of resources in counties along the border could help republican terror groups.

It warned that on some nights, just a mere handful of gardai are on duty along the Donegal border with Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh.

“Frustration about lack of resources is turning to anger about the dangers they are exposed to,” said a GRA spokesman.

“Successive governments have decimated policing to a level where it is barely functioning and staffing levels are so low that members fear for their safety.

“Cross-border criminals, drug dealers and terrorists are out there and our members feel they are being put at risk by being exposed to them without adequate back-up from either uniformed or armed colleagues.”

There have even been reports of some gardai working extra hours for no extra pay in an effort to tackle the criminal gangs.

While the last Irish Government reopened the force’s training facility at Templemore, garda chiefs have said it will take years for numbers to reach levels seen seven years ago.

This is a position backed by GRA representatives along the border, who warned that gardai retiring will outnumber those being recruited.

The organisation’s Donegal representative, Brendan O’Connor, said: “While some new recruits are being located in Donegal, the fact is they are only replacing gardai who are leaving the force, and as a result there is no actual increase in numbers. In fact, the opposite is true. It is not even making up for the outflow.”

He said the number of gardai in rural areas was also being hit by a lack of resources in the county’s four district headquarters.

“Gardai are being brought in from rural stations into the larger stations to cover gaps there,” Mr O’Connor added.

“We welcome new recruitment to An Garda Siochana, but that rate of recruitment will not replace what we have lost.

“It will be a long time before we get back anywhere near the numbers required for an effective police service.”

The PSNI is on the highest state of alert, fearing terrorists will use the 1916 Rising events to carry out more attacks.

Belfast Telegraph


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