MORE GARDA STATIONS will be shut down in future owing to budgetary constraints, Alan Shatter has said.
The Minister for Justice said there would be a further “rationalisation” of the garda station network, on top of the 31 stations already earmarked for closure this year.
He also said that new stations at Kevin Street in Dublin and in Wexford would only proceed depending on the availability of funds from the OPW which has seen significant budget reductions.
Addressing the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, Shatter said that there was no need for such a large number of stations across the State. He said:
Can anyone plausibly argue that we absolutely need 703 Garda stations in such a small country? Can there really be no reduction whatever in the number of stations, even though transport, communications and technology have been transformed beyond recognition?
The conference had earlier voted on motions calling for the number of stations to be maintained, and for the new facilities at Kevin Street to be pushed forward.
Shatter responded to criticisms of the closure of garda stations which had been recently renovated with money from the public purse. He said these facilities would continue to serve the taxpayer in different capacities.
These are buildings which are in public ownership and will be available for use by other State entities or for community purposes, so of course it was right to carry out essential maintenance.
He also highlighted a rise in the number of garda cars – which he said had increased in number to 2,600 from 2,200 in 2007 – and said tenders had been sought for more vehicles.