The newly refurbished Athlone Garda Station was formally opened in the presence of the Minister for Justice, Deputy Helen McEntee, Minister for the Office of Public Works, Deputy Patrick O’Donovan and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on Monday morning.
A major undertaking, construction on the refurbishment of Athlone Garda Station commenced in 2019 as the original two storey detached premises on Barrack Street, built in 1947, required an extensive upgrade in order to meet the standards required to provide a modern police service to the ever growing district of Athlone and its immediate environs.
Despite significant delays to the project caused by the the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, refurbishment was completed earlier this year. Having refurbished the adjacent vacant buildings and existing station, the district of Athlone now has a considerably larger and therefore more comfortable and accommodating station and district headquarters for victims of crime, the general public and Garda personnel operating there.
The newly refurbished District Headquarters in Athlone Garda Station will serve a region of over 26,100 residents, with the heaviest concentration of the population in Athlone town which has a population, as per the 2016 Census, of 21,349.
This number is set to increase as preliminary CSO figures from the 2022 Census indicate the County of Westmeath has witnessed an eight percent population increase since the last 2016 Census.
In addition to the static population, the District Headquarters will also cater to the needs of the Athlone Institute of Technology (TUS ) student population, as well as to other local educational facilities and business, including many multinationals.
As of July 20, there are over 100 Garda personnel attached to the refurbished Divisional Headquarters in Athlone. The new station, located in the centre of Athlone town, has a fully accessible public reception, prisoner processing and custody areas, with live CCTV and audio recording all contained within the building, as well as a number of electric vehicle charging points for current and future fleet upgrades.
In all its new facilities and its unique, fit-for-purpose design, Athlone Garda Station represents the future of community based policing in Ireland and its advantages in keeping people safe.
Welcoming the formal opening of the Athlone Garda Station refurbishment project, Cathaoirleach, Westmeath County Council, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, noted the significant investment and realised enhancement of 75 year old building on the west side of the town.
“Such investment is most welcome on the west side of Athlone and the formal realisation of this state-of-the-art refurbishment project can only be a positive development for the town. This state-of-the-art garda station is now complete with the relevant law enforcement attributes and will be the hub for community policing in Athlone and its immediate surroundings,” Cllr O’Rourke asserted.
While such a positive development is a significant development for Athlone, Cllr O’Rourke, stated that there is a continuing need to invest in resources from a law enforcement perspective.
“Although, the formal opening of our new state-of-the-art garda station is to be lauded, there is still the need to add to the existing resources to better serve our community. Despite its status as a District Headquarters, the refurbished building does not contain a dedicated drugs unit, while there is also the need to enhance personnel at the station and I will be reminding the relevant heirarchy of such necessities in due course. Gardai must be visible on the streets of Athlone to assure our ever growing community that their safety is paramount,” Cllr O’Rourke remarked.