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gra conference

'It's a kip': Gardaí describe 'horrendous' conditions in stations

The GRA said people have resigned over the working conditions.

GARDAÍ HAVE CALLED on the Minister for Justice to move forward with plans for four new stations as they described the conditions in some as “horrendous”.

The issue was raised by a number of gardaí at the Garda Representative Association (GRA) annual delegate conference yesterday.

Garda Jason Collins, who represents members in the Cork West division, said construction work has been earmarked for four new stations – in Clonmel, Macroom, Sligo and Newcastlewest – since 2015 under an Office of Public Works Capital programme.

“To date no work has been completed or started,” he said. 

Collins said the GRA has not even seen plans for any of these stations.

Garda Tom Finan, from the Tipperary division, said there are 53 members of garda rank working out of Clonmel station, which he described as “proverbially a kip”.

“Many a minister for justice has been there, including the present minister; local politicians and local garda management.”

A health and safety report commissioned by the association found the conditions were “horrendous”, he said.

“We have members who have a locker room that is not fit for purpose, we have no facilities for females, it’s a unisex locker room. There’s one being built at the moment just to keep us busy – it’s a shed out the back.

“The cells have been renovated to national standard in recent months, which cost a lot of money. That money, in my opinion, should have gone into plans for a new station. But the cells had to be done for the security of prisoners, who are thought more of than garda members.”

The health and safety report found rat droppings in several areas of the station including in the canteen. In one incident a rat came up through a toilet in a cell. The locker room is also regularly occupied by pigeons because the window in the room can not be closed.

Screenshot 2019-05-01 at 20.03.47 Lockers covered in pigeon excrement at Clonmel garda station.

It also identified serious issues in relation to fire safety, as the only way out onto a fire escape is by climbing over a toilet and through a window.

Screenshot 2019-05-01 at 20.03.02 The fire exit in Clonmel garda station is the window over the toilet. GRA GRA

“We are talking about these issues for a long time and there is no light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. Finan said three gardaí had resigned from the station over the conditions.

Collins pointed out that gardaí in Dunmanway, Co Cork, had walked out of the station because of a rat infestation in the past.

“We wouldn’t want to do something like that,” he said.

“But the Dunmanway walk-out pushed on that project and they are backing us into that corner again.”

Collins said gardaí in Macroom had been prepared to walk out of the station in 2010, but a last-minute deal was struck for a new station. A site has been selected, but he said he knows of no plans and no work has started.

“They keep giving excuses; about other stations being delayed and that delaying us.”

He also said it was frustrating to see €3.5 million ringfenced for garda stations being returned to the exchequer last year because they had not been used.

In response to a recent parliamentary question about the stations, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said the delivery of these new buildings is being “pursued as a priority” by the government.

“Site acquisition for this Private Public Partnership (PPP) bundle has been complex and has taken longer than originally envisaged,” he said.

“I have been informed by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and the garda authorities that the OPW acquired sites for the development of the new stations in Macroom and Sligo in 2015 and 2018 respectively.

“I am pleased to say that I am informed by the OPW that all difficulties in relation to completion of the acquisition of the site in Clonmel were recently resolved and that that transfer is now also agreed.”

Flanagan sad it was necessary to secure all three sites before the PPP could proceed to the next stage.

“The establishment of PPP projects can be complex and it is vital to get the projects right at the planning and design stage.”

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