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Garda association criticises proposed closure of 80 stations

The Garda Representatives Association said proposed changes will not save money and the service will “go downhill rapidly”.

Image: Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland

PROPOSALS FOR THE closure of 80 Garda stations before the end of the year have been criticised by the Garda Representatives Association (GRA)

According to a report in the Irish Independent, closed Garda Stations would be handed back to the Office of Public Works and Gardaí in affected areas would staff clinics a for a couple of hours, two days a week.

The proposal is part of a new policing model which was discussed by senior officers at a conference this week.

Spokesperson for the GRA John Parker said the closure of Garda stations is a “false economy” as operating costs for rural stations are already low.

“There’s no real cost savings if you’re paying rent on a community hall unless you’re expecting the community to give you a freebie,” he said. “But if you’re passing the cost onto the public that’s an unfair burden.”

Parker said proposed changes would make it more difficult for Gardaí to conduct official business. “You’ll have Gardaí working out of the boot of a car and they won’t be able to offer the same confidentiality in a community hall as they can in a station,” he said.

“Crime does not wait for clinics”

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Padraig Mac Lochlain said the closure of Garda stations will put community safety at risk.

“Attempts to spin this as some sort of new policing model are an insult to the communities affected,” he said.

“The idea that these stations can be replaced by twice weekly clinics beggars belief.  Crime does not wait for clinics.  Policing is about instant reaction in many cases and this cannot be done remotely.”

Another key part of the new policing model will be the utilisation of the 170 new patrol vehicles which will be out on the streets in the new year.

Parker said these new patrol vehicles are “only one third of the deficit that was lost since 2009″ and said Garda resources are still hugely lacking.

He said the “ordinary Gardaí on the street” are constrained from fighting their corner and whatever decision is made they “will have to get on with business at hand”.

However he added that people who are worried about their local Garda station closing should make their concerns known.

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