Mayo Fianna Fáil Deputy Dara Calleary has slammed the Government’s decision to shut down six Garda stations in Mayo. Before a Fianna Fail motion was debated in the Dáil, the deputy had urged Fine Gael to reverse its “dangerous decision”, however on Wednesday evening—following an adjournment of the Dáil for several hours in order to allow TDs to attend the State funeral of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe—the motion was rejected by the Dáil.
As of yesterday (Thursday January 31 ) Garda stations closed in Blacksod, Ballycastle, Ballyglass, Ballyvary, Hollymount, and Lahardane.
Deputy Calleary said that Minister Alan Shatter does not understand the pressure that gardaí and also rural communities are under. “People are fearful in their homes,” he said. “They need a strong and visible Garda presence in their communities to deter criminals and support vulnerable householders. The underhand cut to Garda numbers must stop. It creates dangerous gaps in our community policing and put enormous pressure on local gardaí.”
Deputy Calleary added: “The Government are standing by the decline of rural Ireland” as apart from the closure of Garda stations “the Government are also standing over post office closures, bank closures, and school closures.”
Alternative policing plan
Fine Gael deputy Michelle Mulherin said that the selection of Garda stations for closure “arises out of a year-long consultation undertaken by the Garda Commissioner with Garda management in each area. The exercise was not just about making savings, but finding alternative ways of effective policing in the community, reflecting the preferred and modern approach that gardaí with the proper supports would be free to be out on the beat in communities by not being required to man these part time stations.”
Deputy Mulherin has met with a number of concerned groups and individuals in the Ballycastle area. “I totally understand that without a doubt when rural communities see the blue light go out in a local Garda station, even if it is open only part time, it puts a fear in people that they are cut off and forgotten about.” However the deputy said that “these fears have to be allayed and people assured by the alternative plans for community policing in their area.”
The deputy said that she has spoken at length with local superintendent Pat McHugh and has been given assurance “that the new plans will not only provide for the proper policing of the Ballycastle area but increased Garda cover from a roster point of view.” The superintendent explained to Deputy Mulherin that Ballycastle is not losing Garda Brian Maguire, who is stationed there, but there will also cover for a second shift from the existing garda stationed in Killala, and most importantly a Garda car is being made available for that specifically for the area which is essential for policing.”
Deputy Mulherin has asked the Minister to investigate the possibility of having a garda in Ballycastle at a public venue at set hours once a week so anyone wanting to meet a garda in Ballycastle could do so at this time without having to travel to Killala or Ballina.