Cloud hanging over future of Rural Garda Stations

July 17th, 2008 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen said today that there “is a cloud hanging over the future of Clare Rural Garda Stations”. He is critical of this Governments commitment to maintaining the future of many rural Garda stations, claiming that they have supported the “increased urbanisation of Garda Stations to the detriment of many rural communities. He is calling for a review of the “opening hours of Garda Stations”, claiming that “rural people can sleep safer in their beds knowing that local Garda is based in their community” and that extending the opening hours of rural stations is ” is a deterrent to the criminal”.

 

 

“24 Hour Garda Stations have been disappearing from rural Ireland and there has been a gradual move toward urbanisation. Here in County Clare for instance Ennis, Shannon, Kilrush, Killaloe and Ennistymon Stations operate on a 24-hour basis with the operating hours of the remaining stations reduced to a few hours a week, leaving only a skeleton service in many areas.”

“This has led to a review of the number of rural stations nationally by the OPW and the Garda authorities and my fear is that many of our existing rural stations will not be refurnished and will be closed down”.

“When I raised this matter by way of parliamentary question recently with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Dermot Ahern he stated that the operating hours of non-24 stations was dependant on manpower availability and that any extension to their opening hours would require the “employment of Garda personnel on indoor administrative duties”, the programme for Government promised to improve the ratio of civilian staff to Garda officers and if there was real action on this promise it would free up more Gardai to provide a visible present in our rural areas”.

“In recent months I have received numerous calls from people living in isolated rural areas of the county, worried about the increased incidents of burglaries that they have witnessed in their areas, they are concerned that the short opening hours in their own stations result in Gardai having to travel long distances to respond to such incidents in their communities. Take for instance if an incident occurs in Miltown Malbay or Ballyvaughan after 1 p.m. on any given day the Gardai have to travel 13km to Miltown Malbay from Ennistymon and 32km in the case of Ballyvaughan.”

“Over the past three years the number of burglary incidents recorded at Clare Garda Division Stations has grown from 316 in 2005 to 458 in 2007 with the rate of detected burglaries for the same period having increased from 55 in 2005 to 142 in 2007, I commend the Gardai for this increase in detection rates however we could attain an even higher rate of detection if our policing policy supported the maintenance of the Garda in the local Station”

“This Government has turned a blind eye to this policy of increased urbanisation of An Garda Siochana, I am now calling on Minister Ahern to review this strategy and put the Garda back on the beat in our rural areas”