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TD warns of policing crisis for Mayo

Lorna Siggins - Irish Times

FINE GAEL TD John O’Mahony has warned of a “major crisis building up” for policing in Co Mayo.

The Mayo TD issued his warning as the Department of Justice confirmed the cost of Garda overtime and expenses for security at the Corrib gas project stood at €12.6 million to date.

Mr O’Mahony said 30 gardaí had retired from the Mayo force within the past 12 months, and the majority were rank and file gardaí serving in districts throughout the county.

He said he was calling on Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern to ensure vacancies at all levels in the force were being filled in the county.

“Mayo is a very big county, and the Garda working here are stretched to the limit to see that it’s policed in the manner that they wish it be,” Mr O’Mahony said.

“However, if this trend of a drop in numbers continues into next year, that task will become even more difficult than it already is,” he said, adding that this would affect community policing.

The Department of Justice confirmed that €12.6 million was spent on overtime and expenses on policing at the Corrib gas project from September 2006 to December 14th, 2009.

Earlier figures from the department were €8.1 million for September 2006 to October 2007, and €8.9 million up to April 2008.

Since April 2008, up to 200 gardaí were deployed at certain periods during offshore pipelaying, which was abandoned in late summer 2008 and resumed in summer 2009.

The department indicated that any discrepancy might be explained by the fact the figures recently issued did not include “normal salaries”, and related to “overtime and expenses subsistence” only for the past three years and three months.