Failure by Garda to send a representative to a meeting of a local policing group to discuss livestock thefts in border areas will give the criminals free rein, it has been claimed.
Newry and Armagh MLA Mickey Brady has said the refusal by An Gardá Síochána to accept the invitation to Newry and Mourne Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) to discuss criminal activities in the Louth/Armagh border locality was deemed by many as “a snub” and something which had “caused great anger, particularly with the farming community”.
“In light of the serious increase in the theft of livestock and farm plant machinery on both sides of the Louth/Armagh ,the PCSP representing Newry, Mourne and Gullion invited a member of An Gardá Siochána to its monthly meeting to discuss how the community and statutory agencies can play a greater role in dealing with cross border crime,” said the Sinn Fein representative.
” Unfortunately this request was rebuffed by the Garda in Louth. The only people to gain from this are the criminals.”
PCSP is a policing and safety partnership. As a statutory body it was established by the Justice Act 2011 and is jointly funded by the Department of Justice and the Policing Board. Its primary objective is to build Safer, Shared and Confident Communities.
Said Mr Brady: “As stated by the Department of Justice, building safer communities is beyond the ability of the justice system alone, and requires a partnership approach within and across government. PCSPs can play a pivotal role in building confidence in the justice system, ensuring that members of the community can get involved in helping develop solutions to tackle crime, fear of crime and anti-social behaviour in their local areas.
“The PCSP in Newry, Mourne and Gullion has a working relationship with the PSNI that is evolving and proving to be effective in many areas.
“However, we live in a border area and it is recognised North and South that criminals will exploit the existence of the border and the limitations this imposes on policing.
“In 2010, the two Justice Ministers on the island, Dermot Ahern TD and David Ford MLA, chaired a joint seminar on Cross Border Crime and Protecting Communities Together. The purpose of this seminar was to outline the areas of cooperation needed between An Gardá Siochána and the PSNI to enhance their effectiveness in tackling cross border crime.
“For An Gardá Siochána to refuse to come to Newry and Mourne Council to discuss with the PCSP the most recent upsurge in crime in the Louth/Armagh border area can only be described as a retrograde step in the area of co-operation.
“It is incumbent on the Gardá Commissioner and the Chief Constable and the current Ministers for Justice to ensure their officers are following the agreed strategies for co-operation and working more closely with all the statutory bodies and communities to ensure we build ‘Safer, Shared and Confident Communities’.”
The Sinn Féin MLA confirmed that his colleague Louth TD Gerry Adams would be raising the matter with the Minister For Justice in Leinster House.
Newry & Mourne PCSP member Councillor Terry Hearty said the decision by the Gardá not to attend the meeting had angered many.
“Rural criminal activities and in particular livestock theft is increasing in border areas,” he said. “Armagh has been identified as a major hot-spot for these despicable attacks on the farming fraternity.
“The PCSP had supported my proposal to invite members of the Louth Garda Síochána to attend our next meeting so that we could discuss how best these types of crimes can be combated using all the resources and personnel on both sides of the border.
“Many farmers who have suffered at the hands of these criminals are facing financial hardship because of the impact of their losses and there is great anger at this snub to our attempt to engage with a key stakeholder in developing an effective and productive cross border strategy, so that farmers can go about their business without the fear of crime impacting upon their livelihoods.”
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