The tragic death of city pensioner Mr Paddy Barry last week should be the call for major action from the Department of Justice in terms of more resources for Gardai. We sympathise with the family who must be shocked and stunned at what has occurred.
Our court cases list has spiralled in the Munster Express in recent years amid an upsurge in crime. The Gardai are doing their very best in trying to combat the growing menace but need extra numbers in the force in this area. It is a fact that there is rising unemployment in Waterford, a weak economy and a general malaise among some elements of society.
House break-ins have become more frequent and it was somewhat inevitable that personal harm, and in this case a death, has resulted. A growing hard drug problem in Waterford city is partly blamed for the surge in crime. Gardai are doing their best to combat the situation, but given the levels of burglary and theft it is hard for them to keep up with what is happening.
When there are convictions in the court, there are few places for treatment of addicts. Prisons are full so the deterrents are not there. Surely it is time to look at other options such as temporary prisons or detention centres to house young offenders, where there appears to be the greatest need.
Detoxification centres for those wishing to break the habit may also be of assistance. Drugs are not the only problem as there is also much crime related to alcohol. The situation reminds one of Dublin in the early Eighties when recession hit hard. Jobs were few to come by and there was a general feeling of hopelessness. This made it ripe territory for hard drugs to get established by very unscrupulous persons.
Our TDs and councillors need to lobby hard to get more Garda resources. Deputations to the Minister for Justice could be initiated. Our Mayor is quite hard on crime and knows the extent of the drug problem and he will be anxious to achieve progress in getting more Gardai.