Local TD Robert Troy has described as “extremely disappointing” the response of the Minister for Justice to a parliamentary question about plans for the possible closure of Garda stations in Westmeath and Longford.
Deputy Troy said, “I asked the Minister for Justice a straight question about the future of Garda stations in the constituency. There is genuine concern about the possible closure of rural Garda stations and the impact this would have on communities. I am surprised the Minister has given such a vague response which will only heighten fears in both counties.
Deputy Troy went on to say that Minister Shatter has confirmed that “an examination of the opening hours and in some cases the viability of Garda stations” is being carried out.
“I am concerned that the Minister appears to have shirked responsibility for the possible closure of Garda stations. It is the Minister and the Government that must ensure Gardaí have a strong presence in our communities and that the public are protected. Government seems more than happy to talk about tough decisions being taken but is very quick to distance themselves from any responsibility for them.
Deputy Troy went on to say that Minister Shatter also made reference in his reply that the Commissioner “may have to consider in appropriate cases whether a better policing service could be delivered to a local community by having Gardaí out on patrol instead of in a station”.
“Having gardaí based out of a station miles from towns and communities is not appropriate and the Minister should be looking at more civilian support for Gardaí in order to free up officers from station duty to ensure a greater community presence,” he added.