Gardai forced to hire cars from rental companies

By Maurice Garvey

THE LOSS of 30 cars  has forced Gardai to hire vehicles from private rental companies to carry out duties in Clondalkin, Ballyfermot and Lucan, The Echo has learned.

The issue stems from police vehicles – cars, vans, unmarked and marked – which have reached the ‘end of life’ stage and are not being replaced due to a lack of investment.

pg 5 GARDA CAR

The Echo understands hired vehicles are not used for emergency responses, but rentals are necessary for gardai to fulfill a range of less intensive duties across the DMR West division.

DMR West covers Clondalkin, Ballyfermot, Lucan, Rathcoole, Ronanstown, Finglas, Cabra, with headquarters based in Blanchardstown.

“It is very serious at the moment,” a garda source told The Echo.

“Quite a number of cars in the division are at their end of life. From what I understand, a case was made for new vehicles to be issued.

“They (hired vehicles) are not for responses or emergency calls, but for official garda duties like going out and asking queries, or ferrying witnesses. Garda vehicles are on the go all the time.

“They have a short life-span because they are always on the road. Garages are not going to repair and put a vehicle back on the road if it needs a new clutch – it’s too costly.”

Further to this, figures released to Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan last week, indicate an alarming decrease of garda fleet numbers in Dublin, with DMR West the most affected division in the State.

Since the start of 2018 to 2019 to date, up to 36 vehicles were removed from DMR West, with just six new vehicles allocated last year.

DMR North (Dublin) was second in the list, down 16 vehicles, while DMR South (which includes Tallaght and Terenure) is down nine vehicles.

“It’s deeply concerning,” said Deputy O’Callaghan.

“DMR West, which happens to be one of the worst affected areas by both scramblers and organised crime, now has 30 fewer vehicles than it had at the beginning of last year.”

The Dublin Bay South TD said the recent increase of serious crimes highlighted the need for gardai to regularly patrol affected areas.

 “We were told by the Minister in 2016 that over €40m was specifically provided for investment in the garda fleet up to 2021. I was assured this week, that a capital allocation of €10m has been made available to An Garda Síochána for the purchase of vehicles this year.”

The Department of Justice told The Echo: “The allocation of all Garda resources, and the manner in which Garda operations are conducted, are solely for the Garda Commissioner, in light of his identified operational demands. 

“This includes responsibility for allocation of Garda vehicles among the Garda Divisions.  However it is understood by the Department that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure their optimum use.

“An unprecedented budget of €1.76 billion has been allocated to An Garda Síochána in 2019.  Significant capital investment is also being made in An Garda Síochána, including an allocation of €10 million for the Garda fleet in 2019.

“The Department understands that An Garda Síochána intends to purchase more than 300 vehicles with this allocation in 2019, to meet operational demand.  It is understood that the allocation of these additional vehicles will begin this month, following delivery and fit-out.”

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