Future of North Tipperary Garda Stations Under Review25th April 2012
I have received confirmed that a full review of Garda Stations in the Division of Tipperary is currently underway with a view to determining where cuts can be made. This review follows on from Minister Shatter’s directive to the Garda Commissioner to review the need for 703 stations across the country as part of a cost saving measure.
I put down a parliamentary question on this matter and asked the Minister to provide information on the likely impact of these cuts on Tipperary, the size of the cuts to be made and when we can expect to have a decision on such. The Minister has failed to respond to this question in any meaningful answer merely saying that the Policing Plan for 2013 has not yet been drawn up and therefore it is not possible to provide any details on where or when cuts will be made. However the Minister has confirmed to me that he does expect that there will be on-going rationalisation of the Garda Station Network.
Following on from this I have spoken to senior Garda officials within the Division of Tipperary of An Garda Síochána and they have confirmed to me that they have been tasked with examining the stations across Tipperary with a view to determining where mergers or even closures can be imposed. They have given assurances that they will endeavour, where at all possible, to protect the community focus ethos of the force and will do all that they can to maintain the positive relationships that have developed between An Garda Síochána and rural communities. That said they cannot of yet give details as to which stations may be in danger.
Already we have seen the loss of two stations in Tipperary namely Ballinure and Ballingarry. While these stations had been out of use for some years it was still a considerable blow to the locality to receive confirmation that these stations will never be operational again. I do not want to see a situation whereby other communities in the constituency receive similar news, that they too will lose their station.
This review is particularly worrying given the increases that have been seen in burglary in rural areas over the last number of months. In the run up to Christmas of last year, and indeed since, rural areas in North Tipperary have seen an astronomical increase in the rates of break in’s and robberies. This increase in crime is understandably causing huge concern and anxiety, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable. By Minister Shatter cutting rural police services he is cutting people’s confidence and their feeling of safety in their own home.
We are now facing a crisis with regards to policing in this country. The Government seem to be missing the vital point on this matter. Policing is not a business being run for profit by the state, nor should it be treated as such. The reality is that Garda stations are a vital commodity not only for urban but for rural areas. At all times regard should be had for the negative impact these closures will have on the public, rather than to how many euros will be saved. People living in rural communities have an equal entitlement and claim to Garda Services as those living in towns or cities’s and have every right to feel safe and protected in their own area. In a crisis every citizen has an entitlement to protection and help from the state, if rural stations continue to be closed this may mean that a Garda will have to travel an additional 10, 15 or 20 miles to an accident or an emergency which across country roads can take a considerable length of time.
It must be stressed that our Gardaí are doing a stellar job in maintaining a very strong presence despite the repeated cuts to their numbers and cutbacks to their funding. These Gardaí deserve support and help from the Government rather than further cutbacks.