Castlebar councillor Al McDonnell has criticised the government’s decision to sell two garda stations in Mayo that were recently shut down by Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
The Mayo County Councillor was reacting to confirmation that the government is selling off 40 garda stations that it recently closed – including Ballyvary and Lahardane stations in Mayo.
“This is yet another loss for these two communities. Their local garda station has already been shut down and now the building which was once a focal point of the community is being sold off. It means there is no hope whatsoever that the station can be reopened,” said Cllr McDonnell.
“The government’s excuse is that they could not find any other use for these buildings. I find that extremely hard to believe. In many cases the buildings have been central to community life for decades, not only providing comfort and security to local residents, but also offering important ancillary services. The government should have made every effort to ensure that the buildings are given back to the community and can remain at the heart of the community life.
“I believe Minister Shatter’s campaign of shutting local garda stations and dismantling community garda resources is fundamentally wrong. I also believe that this campaign is a strong element of a wider attack on rural communities in the west of Ireland in particular. Many Mayo communities have seen their local services dramatically reduced over the past two years. Six garda stations have been shut down in Mayo this year alone. This week, two Mayo court houses were closed. Libraries, bank branches and credit unions are shutting down in many areas. Small schools are under increasing risk of closure. Local businesses and shops are under threat as a result of a continued lack of support from banks and government.
“All of this amounts to a dramatic withdrawal of services in many rural communities, particularly in the west of Ireland. Unfortunately, the government’s decision to sell off local garda station buildings will be seen as yet another nail in the coffin.”