Garda crisis in New Ross as staffing levels reach ‘crazy’ situation
THE GARDA force in New Ross is in crisis, with only two gardaí available to be on the beat across the entire district on weekend days.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) is calling for emergency measures to be put in place to ensure garda numbers in the New Ross district are increased over the coming months.
The district has lost eight senior gardaí over recent years, two sergeants and six guards, with none being replaced.
Also the current roster system means less gardaí are on duty at any given time.
Wexford GRA spokesperson Derek Campion described the garda staffing situation in the New Ross district as ‘craziness’. Garda Campion said: ‘We have been calling for increased numbers for a long time. The entire district of New Ross on Saturday’s in the recent past has been operated by two gardaí; one in the station and one in the car. That is not good for the town or the country. The district stretches from Ballywilliam to Duncannon and the Hook to Wellingtonbridge and you’ve two guards! It’s craziness that this is the level we are working with. You are blue in the face trying to talk to garda management. You just can’t operate it.’
The Wexford Garda division was recently highlighted as the third worst nationally outside of Kildare and Meath for garda personnel per head of population.
Garda Campion said morale amongst gardaí in New Ross is very low, with transfers being blocked and members not being able to progress or change their career paths. Another issue is the condition of garda stations. ‘Even the rats won’t stay in some stations,’ said Garda Campion, who is based in Campile Garda Station.
‘Progress is incredibly slow. We are gradually starting to see an increase with the recruitment drive at the minute. We have been told that five new probationers are coming to New Ross at the end of September, start of October. We have been calling for all stations in the Wexford division to have recruits. Unfortunately, as of yet, New Ross hasn’t received any probationers.’
He said: ‘New Ross is a 24 hour station. On a Saturday, the way the shifts operate, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. you wouldn’t have any other gardaí coming in unless there is a major incident and even then there is no guarantee as four gardaí have to be on duty in Wexford and Enniscorthy garda numbers have to be maintained there. People who call stations here are being told they have to wait and hour and a half for a garda car to arrive. We don’t know why garda management isn’t screaming about this. They say there are greater detection rates but our numbers are down and morale is low.’
A senior garda in New Ross said: ‘We are down on our numbers but we are also spread over five shifts and not four. We are down in the number of people in country stations also. Because we have to keep a 24 hour station going, mainly with four or five in a unit and because country stations are reduced it affects the whole district. If the gardaí were there it would have a positive impact on the district.’
The garda said members are under severe pressure and are annoyed with the lack of action by garda management in resolving the issue.
‘ This has been going on for four year and it’s getting worse year after year as guards aren’t being replaced. You can’t have the service at the same levels when you have things the way they are.’
Superintendent John McDonald said: ‘No different than in any other station in the country New Ross could do with more resources. Four to five years ago there would have been a good few more guards in New Ross. From the point of view of providing active patrols on beats and from a visible presence viewpoint, it (more gardaí) could and would give us additional capabilities.’