Firstly for my foreign readers. This whole scandal started when Deputy Leader of Fine Gael the main opposition party came out and said that only 2 new Gardai joined the force in 2005 while detection rates have decreased. He said “Minister’s Bluster Fails to Put Extra Garda Feet on the City Beat.” Then on the news on one on RTE radio. Michael McDowell claimed the figures are wrong, that Fine Gael are leading a con job on the media, that Fine Gael and Labour when they were last in power they ran down the number of Gardai and called him the Dr Goebbels of propaganda.
So what of the figures well the saying Lies Dahm lies and statistics comes to mind. You can get statistics to basically say anything you wish. Like survey questions it depends on the variables and limits that you take. For instance if you wanted to take the percentage of riots in
So here for you mathematical and number junkies is the figures of Gardai in
Now March 2006 3794 From McDowells statement yesterday
31 December 2005 3,742 From Mr Bruton's Statement
31 March 2005 3,685. From Dail Debates
1 February 2005 3704
31 December 2004 3740 From Mr Bruton.
Now if you take the Garda Annual report the figure for
You can set any two arbitrary points and statistically year end is and you will get the desired result. Most recruits don’t join on December 31 they join around June. Without adding information on retirements suspensions statistic are useless. Now what these stats show just seems to show is that there is a lot of variable factors in the Garda figures that they can go up seasonally and down seasonally. For instance if I said between this time last year and now the Garda figure is up close to 109.
So I have to say McDowell’s case seems a lot stronger and does show that Richard Burton’s statistics were fairly tailored to his advantage to say the least. I mean people would be quiet happy with a 109 Garda presence and think McDowell is doing a good job but that is not what Richard wants now is it. So he took the figures from December to December that are more in Fine Gael's favour.
However what is interesting is Richard’s latest dabbling in the world of maths. He claims that in 1996 there was 336 people per Garda while now there is 337 people per Garda. This does show that considering that the population has grown so rapidly that in fact Garda numbers have increased also in this period to keep a close pace to the increase in population. However not close enough. There is still less Gardai per-person in 1996 then in 2005. But yet again it is based on end of year total which are not the best indicator of the Garda levels. Personally I would prefer comparing yearly averages.
But indeed it is a bad figure for the government, even though Garda numbers fell during the Fine Gael administration by larger amounts and the population rise due to immigration was impossible to see. This is not going to be remembered by the public they are getting more afraid. While crime is still low compared to some of our social model European friends it is still rising. Fine Gael might just have found the big issue Gerry O'Quigley said the opposition needed.