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Published: Thursday, 24th January, 2013 6:31pm

Shatter cuts lead to axing of Garda Drugs Unit in Cavan-Monaghan

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Cavan-Monaghan garda division's dedicated drugs unit is being axed with immediate effect, according to a Fianna Fáil councillor.

According to information received by the Monaghan based Cllr Robbie Gallagher, local gardaí were given the order with little warning this week to immediately disband the Divisional Drugs Unit after 14 years in operation. The four gardaí and one detective sergeant currently working in the unit will be redeployed into the general force.

"This is another major blow to law and order in this region," said Cllr Gallagher.

"This shocking news came with no warning and it means that there will no longer be any dedicated drugs unit in Cavan or Monaghan. It's understood the move is a result of fears that the uniform section of the gardaí locally will be dangerously understaffed as a result of major cuts to garda resources over the past year.

"The Cavan-Monaghan Divisional Drugs Unit has been in operation since 1999 and has been extremely successful in tackling the sale and supply of drugs in this region. Since its establishment, this intelligence-led taskforce has been directly responsible for approximately 95% of the drugs prosecutions in this division. But its true value is difficult to quantify as much of its work has been preventative, and there is no doubt that communities across Cavan and Monaghan have benefited from this work.

"I am seriously struggling to understand how the Justice Minister Alan Shatter can justify leaving Cavan-Monaghan with no gardaí dedicated solely to targeted drugs criminals and intercepting the sale and supply of drugs in our communities. The consequences of shutting such a unit, particularly in a border region, will be far-reaching," Cllr Gallagher said.

Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins has expressed fears that similar cuts are imminent in other garda divisions, as a result of cuts introduced by Minister Shatter.

"This is just the latest in what has become an outright attack on community garda resources around the country," Deputy Collins said.

"Gardaí are at the end of their tether as a result of Minister Shatter's cuts and his outright refusal to lift the ban on garda recruitment. They have been left no choice but to stand by and watch the dismantling of vital garda services that have benefited our communities over the years. I will be seeking an immediate explanation from Minister Shatter about what is happening in Cavan-Monaghan and clarity on whether similar cuts are imminent elsewhere."

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