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Pest control, maintenance and security at closed Garda stations has cost €846,000 to date

That works out at an average of €7,000 per property per year.

Protest at Stepaside Garda Station in Dublin in 2013.
Protest at Stepaside Garda Station in Dublin in 2013.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT HAS spent €846,560 to date maintaining closed Garda stations throughout the country.

That works out at an average of €7,000 per property per year. Some 139 Garda stations have closed since 2011, and a number have since been sold.

Direct savings of €556,000 per year have been made through the closure of the stations under the Garda District and Station Rationalisation Programme.

The figures were released in response to parliamentary questions asked by Fianna Fáil TD Colm Keaveney.

Simon Harris, junior minister at the Office of Public Works, wrote to Keaveney telling him it has cost about €7,000 per station per year to cover private security, pest control and other services.

Harris said income generated from the sale of closed Garda stations to date is approximately €2.5 million.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald acknowledged that the savings of €556,000 per year are “modest”.

30/11/2015 Governments Response on Crime Issues Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan. Source: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

However, she noted: “It is important to recall that the primary objective of the programme was to identify opportunities to introduce strategic reforms to enhance service delivery, increase efficiency and streamline practices within An Garda Síochána.”

Fitzgerald said Garda management had concluded that “resources could be better deployed and more effectively used on the front line” if certain stations, many of which were only open part-time and manned by a single Garda, were closed.

garda Source: Colm Keaveney

She said the programme “supports the provision of a modern 21st century policing service for both urban and rural areas”.

As a result of the programme, communities have benefited from increased Garda visibility and increased patrolling hours which has enabled An Garda Síochána to deliver an improved policing service to the public.

Fitzgerald said that since 2012 the government has invested over €34 million in new Garda vehicles, with over 640 new vehicles coming on stream in 2015. An additional €46 million has been allocated for new Garda vehicles from 2016-2021.

She noted that 600 new gardaí will be recruited next year, following the recruitment of 550 in 2015.

Crime

Earlier this month, a Garda Inspectorate report criticised the lack of community gardaí, saying too many officers are sitting behind desks.

Changing Policing in Ireland found that around 1,500 extra gardaí could be put on the streets if the force made better use of officers.

Keaveney said the government has “changed the focus” of the supposed goal of the closures from a cost-saving measure to that of better utilising officers.

21/4/2015. Fianna Fail Health Policy Documents Colm Keaveney Source: RollingNews.ie

Many people link the closure of Garda stations, particularly in rural areas, to a rise in crimes such as burglaries – with almost 2,000 extra burglary offences taking place in the first nine months of 2015.

Figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) earlier this month show that 28,407 burglaries and related offences were committed in the first nine months of this year, a 6% increase on the 26,747 recorded during the same period in 2014.

‘Was it worth it?’

Keaveney said the government needs to ask itself “Was it worth it?” to close the stations.

He said many communities have lost peace of mind as a result.

The Galway East TD said that rural areas in particular are being targeted by criminal gangs using sophisticated technology to carry out robberies.

“Preventing crime is what rural Garda stations were about.

“There is a social, moral, political and economic case to review the decision of closing stations.”

Read: Here’s what happened to all the Garda Stations that were closed in Dublin

Read: There were almost 30,000 burglaries in Ireland in the first nine months of 2015

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Órla Ryan

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