There has been yet another attack on gardaí doing what they could to protect the good people of Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard. There is disgust and revulsion in the community because of the attack. The words of the Garda Representative Association come to mind. It has stated gardaí feel vulnerable on the streets. We have seen a 25% decline in the number of gardaí in the area in the past few years. If gardaí do not feel they have other gardaí standing beside them, they will feel vulnerable, which will affect the Government’s recruitment aims. We need to get recruitment going again so we can get more gardaí into the community in question.
A Cherry Orchard implementation board was promised. I submitted a parliamentary question last week to seek an update from the Minister on it. If we had had knowledge of the position on the plan and there had been progress, maybe we could have avoided these scenes yet again. These issues emerged owing to scramblers. While we have given the Garda more powers to confiscate scramblers, we need to ask whether we are doing enough to control them and whether we should be considering controls or limitations at the point of sale? Ultimately, while we have given the Garda more powers, those powers can be used only if there is a sufficient number of gardaí and if they feel sufficiently safe and able to use them. They will feel that way only if there are enough gardaí in Ballyfermot supporting each other and the community.
Several Ministers have come to Cherry Orchard to see for themselves what is going on. The Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Deputy James Browne, and the Minister without Portfolio, Deputy Helen McEntee, have done so. They announced the implementation board which the Minister mentioned in his response but very little has happened. While there may be stuff happening behind the scenes, it is certainly not impacting or filtering through and the community is not necessarily seeing the benefit of that. Part of that is about community confidence in the process and community confidence in the Garda. In the short term, we need to accelerate the work of the implementation board and accelerate the provision of resources available to the Garda. In the medium term, we need to think about the wider social supports while in the long term we need to think about the wider social inequality in Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard. We need to address all of those issues, but certainly in the short term, there is a need to accelerate the work of the Cherry Orchard implementation board and ensure it has the resources to do what it needs to do.