“If elected, my first priority will be to ensure that the importance of the reintegration of the Community Garda is at the forefront of Dáil business,” he said.
“Fianna Fáil has committed to increasing community Garda numbers by 200 if elected to Government but I will be seeking to ensure that this is a priority regardless of who is in power.”
Deputy Aylward continued: “Every doorstep in rural communities echoes the same sense of fear and vulnerability to aggravated burglary and crime, especially older people. The message being relayed is clear and consistent and we as public representatives have a responsibility to listen and act.
“People want a familiar and trusted point of contact in their local Garda Station. The purpose of this is twofold. Firstly, the single greatest deterrent of crime is the Garda on the beat. Secondly, the importance of members of the local community in gathering local intelligence through receipt of information from members of the public is crucial in the prevention of crime.
“Strong community relations are the bedrock of an effective police force. However, the imbalance in community Gardaí across the country is damaging local links with the force. We need to cover all Garda districts to ensure that a community Garda is based in the area with strong links to the local community.”
He added: “We can make extra Gardaí available by ramping up the use of civilian staff to alleviate the burden of administrative duties. Such action, as clearly outlined in the Garda Inspectorate Report, coupled with effective workforce planning and outsourcing of certain non-essential duties that do not require a sworn officer will help to free up Garda to get them back on the beat, visible in their communities and directly tackling crime.”
Bobby Aylward concluded: “Fianna Fail has also committed to implement the recommendations of ‘Changing Policing in Ireland’ in regard to the organisational structure of the force to maximise efficiency. These combined measures could see an additional 3,000 Garda on the beat.
“We can utilise a portion of the 3,000 Garda boost from recruitment and organisational changes to increase Community Garda numbers by 200 to ensure all districts are sufficiently covered.”