There could be light at the end of the tunnel for the long awaited development of Athlone Garda Station, according to Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, Kevin “Boxer” Moran.
Minister Moran has confirmed this week that the development of the station has now gone out to tender, and that it is hoped work can begin by the end of February next year.
The project, which was supposed to get underway more than a year ago, will combine the existing station with the former social welfare office adjacent to it. It is estimated that the works will take two years to complete and will be done on a phased basis so that the station can stay open.
“It’s great news and it has been a long time coming,” Minister Moran said. “People have been critical about the length of time it has taken, but it is out of my control that it was announced almost 10 years too early. Since I have gone into Government, our big thing was to make sure the money was available for this, which it now is.
“I am told they are hoping to have a contractor on site by the end of February. So, the long wait is over, and I am happy to say that we will soon have a state-of-the-art Garda station.”
Minister Moran paid tribute to the Gardai in Athlone for working under what he described as “unsuitable conditions” for many years. He added that it is great news for the west side of Athlone that the station is staying in its current location.
Mayor Aengus O’Rourke welcomed the news, but is remaining cautious.
“It has been promised for so long now that I will believe it when I see it,” he said. “Any advance is welcome, and I hope that on this occasion we see people on the ground. There has just been so many false dawns regarding the new station, and I just hope that on this occasion this leads to contractors moving in and putting in place a fit for purpose facility.”