Minister for Justice meets with local Community groups – McEntee

On Friday Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Helen McEntee, welcomed Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald to Donore where she met with local Gardaí and community groups from Duleek, Donore and Rosnaree. The Minister was first greeted by the children in Donore National School where a separate meeting then took place to discuss recent crime in the area. Deputy McEntee said;

‘Recent arson attempts has left the school and the people of Donore in a vulnerable position. The frequency and severity of the attacks have become more sinister in nature and it cannot be tolerated. I felt it was necessary for Minister Fitzgerald to hear first hand what is happening in Donore and also the surrounding areas. Local Gardaí are doing a fantastic job but they have a massive area to cover. If we could get an additional Garda stationed in Duleek I think it would help matters.

‘James Matthews, the local Shop Keeper, told the Minister how his shop has been targeted on 4 separate occasions, the most recent incident was an armed raid, where James was threatened with a firearm. The same thieves moved on to Duleek where they targeted local shop keepers there.

‘Ruth Browne, the local National School Principal, explained how the school has been targeted by a series of arson attacks. She now feels that a CCTV system is needed to protect the building and act as a deterrent.

‘Andrew Dillon Chair of Rosnaree Community Text Alert explained that after four years in existence the Rosnaree text alert system is now linked to 8 other communities. A distinct drop in crime has been noticed since the Text Alert system started. This is as a result of the community working hand in hand with the local Gardai.

‘Minister Fitzgerald listened to everyone’s concerns and she also took on board what people felt was working and what was not. She explained that she is bringing forward legislation which will ensure those who are caught and found guilty of several burglaries will serve consecutive sentences. She also said that she will be introducing tougher bail laws as well as tagging. Having been at the recent Crime Alert meeting in Knightsbrook I believe that these changes are a huge part of the reforms that people want to see within our justice system. I hope they can be introduced as quickly as possible to assist the most recent initiative Operation Thor.

‘Minister Fitzgerald also praised the hard work done by community groups and was very impressed to hear how the Rosnaree and Duleek text alert systems are working and making a difference in the area. She has promised to come back to me with a full report on the area from the Commissioner. I would welcome this report and look forward to its findings and subsequent actions.’

The latest tranche of Gradai recruitment was announced last Friday. A further 600 new Gardaí will be recruited next year. This will bring to 1,150 the total number of new recruits since the reopening of Templemore in September 2014. So far 295 new recruits have completed their training and are now are on the ground in communities nationwide as fully fledged members of An Garda Síochána. It is expected that successful candidates from the 2016 campaign will enter the Garda College from mid-2016.

Speaking about the new recruits Deputy McEntee said;

“This Government has reopened Templemore after it was closed by the previous Government; €46 million has been allocated for Garda vehicles, many of which will be high-power vehicles for targeted operations; €18 million is being provided for the refurbishment of Garda stations and €205 million has been invested in new technology for An Garda Síochána This is part of an unprecedented allocation of €875 million in capital funding for the Justice sector.

‘I’m hopeful that some of the newly recruited Gardaí in early 2016 will be stationed in county Meath and specifically I would like to see an additional Garda in the Duleek station. The additional Garda as well along with the newer tougher laws on theft and bail would no doubt help rural villages like Donore and hopefully deter criminals.

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