OFFALY Councillor Eddie Fitzpatrick has supported Fianna Fail’s calls on the Minister for Justice to do something about soaring burglary rates and an increase in petty crime in Laois Offaly, after being burgled himself.
“The whole issue of crime and burglaries in our local areas has become more evident over the last number of months with homes and businesses being targeted.
“My house was targeted only last week and I must say it’s not a very nice feeling to know strangers were in your home and going through your personal belongings.
“I now believe we need more Gardai on our streets and rural roads to protect our homes and businesses,” said Cllr Fitzpatrick.
He supported Deputy Dara Calleary who tackled the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter about the surge in burglaries and petty crime in the Laois-Offaly Garda Division last year and has again called on the Minister to reconsider his attack on local Garda resources.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the level of burglaries has increased by almost 50% in the last four years in the region.
The number of burglaries in the Laois Offaly Garda Division rose to 974 in 2011 from 664 in 2007 and theft offences have increased by almost 200 incidents over the four year period. One of the biggest increases was arrests for drug cultivation to sixteen in 2011 from just two in 2007.
However, on the up side arrests for drug possessions halved and drink driving convictions also dropped by 50%.
Deputy Calleary, as the party’s Justice Spokesperson, raised the matter with Minister Shatter in the Dáil.
Speaking afterwards, Deputy Barry Cowen said, “I cannot understand how the Minister can justify cutting resources for community policing while the rate of break-ins is going up. This is the time when we need a strong Garda presence on our streets to deter criminals. Instead, the Minister has already shut down nearly 40 Garda stations around the country and downgraded dozens more. He’s now undertaking a second phase of closures and counties in the midlands are in the firing line,” said Deputy Cowen.