THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced plans for the disposal of the 139 garda stations it has closed in the last two years with at least 20 to be sold on the open market by the summer.
The stations will also be assessed for use by other state bodies and in some cases the properties may be given to community and voluntary groups for their use with the Office of Public Works (OPW) confirming that around 20 groups have so far expressed an interest.
The government controversially announced the closure of 100 garda stations last year in addition to the 39 it closed in 2011.
All but four of these have since been closed and gardaí redeployed elsewhere as part of efforts to cut the overall cost of An Garda Síochána and now the government plans to make use of these derelict properties subject to an audit.
Minister of State at the OPW, Brian Hayes, explained: “Clearly these stations are surplus to requirements and their disposal will make savings for the taxpayer on utilities, maintenance and ongoing security costs.
“The last thing we want to see are former Garda stations in a derelict condition, that’s why I am announcing a new policy today.”
The government intends to find other State use for the properties or to sell them on the open market – a bundle of 20 will go on sale by the summer – but if neither of these options are achieved they will consider applications from various community and voluntary groups.
Last year, Hayes announced that the OPW was leasing the former Finglas Garda station building to a childcare company in the area as part of a rationalisation of the State’s property portfolio which Hayes said was a “perfect example of a common sense approach”.
In a statement today, Hayes said of derelict former garda stations: ”Other State agencies and bodies should have a first call on the sites concerned.
“If there is no other State use for a property the OPW will then consider disposing of the property on the open market, if and when conditions prevail, in order to generate funds for the State.
“I have made it clear that I want the first bundle of 20 Garda stations to be on the market by the summer.”
The OPW has said that around 20 community and voluntary groups have expressed an interest inusing the properties for events such as amateur dramatics, parents’ association meetings, festival committees, active retirement facilities and children’s parties.
Hayes added that while it was the government’s priority to sell the properties or obtain other State uses for them it would “seriously consider” proposals from community groups “with a proven track record in delivering local services”.
“I have an open mind on this and have been impressed by the quality of some of the representations made to me by interested groups,” he said.
Previously: Names of 100 garda stations to close