The long-awaited revamp of Athlone Garda Station is to start in the new year at a cost of €8.8m, while a dedicated state-of-the-art premises at Blyry is to be the new location for the Garda Water Unit at a further cost of €0.5m
The work on the station will involve combining the existing building with the adjacent and former Social Welfare office, with the upgrade expected to take two years in total to complete.
The announcement has been welcomed by Independent Deputy for Longford-Westmeath, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran: “There has been a lot of talk over the years in relation to Athlone Garda Station and various Ministers have come and gone,” Deputy Moran said. “However, I have been working very closely with the current Minister in charge of the OPW, Minister Sean Canney, who agreed to fast-track the badly needed revamp of the station.
“The project is expected to cost in the region of €8.8m and I know that when finished the Garda station will meet all national and international standards for modern policing needs. The station, which is a Divisional Headquarters, will also accommodate the growing number of gardaí being deployed there, a fact which can only enhance the safety and wellbeing of the community in terms of great Garda presence.”
Mayor John Dolan also welcomed the news. He praised the work being done by the Gardaí in Athlone and said it was vitally important they get all the necessary support they can. “There has been some negative press for the Gardaí recently, but those of us working on the ground see the fine work they are doing every day in Athlone, and that should be highlighted,” he said.
Cllr Aengus O’Rourke said the revamp of the station is long overdue: “This is about the third or fourth time that we have celebrated this news, it has been announced that many times. And I think people are probably getting a bit weary of it, but I do get a sense now that is at a get-go stage,” he said.
“It’s great news. We have had a lot of bad news on the west side of Athlone in recent weeks and months in terms of business closures, so it is great to see this shot in the arm for the area. I think for the people that work there, for far too long now they have endured overcrowded, poor facilities, and I think this is going to give them a much more comfortable arrangement.”