THE MINISTER FOR Justice Alan Shatter has said this evening that the closure of Stepaside Garda Station, in Dublin South, will not result in fewer Gardaí patrolling the area.
Shatter’s comments come amid at least 1,500 protesters gathering at the location today to demonstrate against its closure.
Supported by TD Shane Ross and Sinn Féin, the rally was attended by men, women and children of the locality, holding banners that read: “Don’t Shatter Stepaside Garda Station”. About 20,000 people live in the Stepaside area in county Dublin.
“Stepaside Garda Station, in my constituency of Dublin South, is the largest Garda station to be closed in the implementation of the Garda Commissioner’s Policing Plan for 2013. The objective of station closures is to enhance the effectiveness of the Force – increasing Garda visibility
and patrol hours, improving Garda mobility and flexibility and using Garda resources to the best possible effect,” Shatter said.
The closure of the Stepaside Garda station will not result in a loss of Gardaí in the Stepaside area. The 34 Garda members currently stationed in Stepaside will be primarily based in Dundrum Garda Station with some also stationed in Blackrock station.
As a consequence of additional Gardaí being freed up from desk duties, there will be an increase in the number available for frontline policing duties in the community, investigating, detecting and preventing crime.
While recognising that constituents in the Stepaside area were “concerned” about the station closure, Shatter said that – as the Minister for Justice – it would be “entirely wrong” for him to second-guess the Garda Commissioner’s judgement and expertise on the issue.
“I have not done so in the context of Garda Stations to be closed in other parts of the country and neither will I do so in my own constituency,” he said.
Shatter said that nationwide Garda station closures in 2013 will result in an extra 61,000 Garda patrol hours. Some 39 Garda Stations around the country were closed in 2012 which, Shatter said, was a contributory factor in 167 Gardaí being were freed up for frontline operational duties.
“The Garda station closures in 2013, 100 in total, are the result of a comprehensive operational assessment carried out by Garda Commissioner
Martin Callinan over the last 12 months,” he added.