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Gardaí warn that station closures 'will change DNA of policing'

31 Garda stations will be closed as part of Budget cutbacks – a move that Gardaí say will destroy the ethos of community policing.

Image: infomatique via Flickr

39 GARDA STATIONS are to be closed permanently under cutbacks announced in the Budget – a move officers say will radically alter the “genetic code of policing” in Ireland.

31 stations will be permanently shut in 2012, as part of the moves announced today, while another eight stations which have already become non-operational will now not re-open.

A further ten stations in Dublin will lose their 24-hour service, as the Garda budget is scaled back by €114 million.

Justice minister Alan Shatter, confirming the cutbacks, said the closures were necessary if the government was to address “the dreadful financial legacy inherited from the previous government”.

The minister said that the reduced Garda presence would provide a challenge, but assured people living in the areas covered by those stations that Gardaí would still provide the “most professional and effective policing service possible”.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said the police force had to find savings like every other part of the public service, and said local Garda managers would work with local communities to ensure the closures would not have an impact on local policing.

“There is a challenge there for us in managing public expectations and explaining that while a policing service may not always be provided in the same way as it was in the past, it is no less effective and our commitment to the community is not diminished,” Callinan said.

The Garda Representative Association, however, said it opposed the closures – and described the news as a “solemn development in the structure of how An Garda Síochána polices this country”.

GRA president Damien McCarthy said local Garda stations had always been “at the heart of the community” and that the local station had often been seen as the “physical embodiment” of the principle that policing came from within the community and not from outside.

To close the garda station in the community re-engineers the genetic code of policing in this country. The implications of such are that it will be harder to gather the information and intelligence that effective crime prevention, detection and investigation relies upon. Crimes become harder to solve. [...]

Can we no longer afford to have a small building designated as a garda station? Is this how far we have come as a nation?

In numbers: The first half of Budget 2012

Gallery: In pictures: day one of Budget 2012

Reaction: How Twitter reacted to Budget 2012

In full: TheJournal.ie‘s coverage of Budget 2012

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Gavan Reilly

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