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Gardaí say crime in Stepaside is up and it's time to reopen the station

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has also revealed the results of a survey which found 93% support a work-to-rule.

Stepaside Garda Station south Dublin.
Stepaside Garda Station south Dublin.
Image: Google Street View.

IN FEBRUARY 2013, Stepaside Garda Station in south county Dublin closed, amid uproar from locals who were concerned there would be fewer gardaí in the area and a rise in crime. It is one of 113 stations closed since 2011.

Antoinette Cunningham, vice-president of the Association of Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI), has said since the station’s closure, there has been a significant increase in crime in the area, which has a population of 20,000.

“We were against the closure of Stepaside in the firstplace and we believe that’s one such example where it could be reopened,” she told reporters at the association’s annual conference in Westport, county Mayo.

The garda station was a hot topic during the recent general election, with Shane Ross plastering the area with posters calling for it to be re-opened. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also paid the former station a visit, saying at the time he believed there needed to be a strong garda presence on the ground.

Burglaries in the division have increased since the closure, jumping from 419 incidents in the last full quarter it was open in 2012 to 595 between October and December 2015.

Small communities

Cunningham told reporters that middle-ranking gardaí have numerous concerns about the significant number of garda station closures over the last few years.

“Our first concern, of course, would be that some of these garda stations no longer exist because the government have sold them off. They haven’t made that much money on them.”

What they’ve done is a disservice to the community because they’ve destroyed the community relationships that we thrive on, that we rely on in small communities, and even where stations have been downsized you find now that garda resources are being pulled from rural centres into big urban towns and there are no police left in small communities, and that’s concerning for us.

Industrial action

A big topic of discussion at this year’s AGSI conference is the restoration of pay for middle-ranking gardaí. In a survey conducted by the association, 93% of sergeants and inspectors called on the organisation to take work-to-rule action in respect of their pay restoration claims.

AGSI members have seen their take-home pay reduced by almost 25% as a result pay cuts and increased taxes since 2008.

The results of the survey also reveal huge support for a series of protest actions:

  • 86% expressed support for a national march at the Dáil;
  • 70% expressed support for regular pickets at Dáil Éireann, increasing in frequency if pay restoration demands are not met;
  • 62% expressed support for pickets at local Minister and TD constituency offices.

During his address to delegates, general secretary John Jacob said the nature of industrial action will be agreed by delegates at the conference over the next two days.

“The AGSI is seen as a soft touch by government because of our restrictions to strike under the Garda Síochána Act, however, there are actions that we can take that will hopefully have our concerns taken seriously,” he said.

“As front line managers and supervisors, we at no stage will impact the public in our protest actions. However, we are calling on the public to support us as we strive for a better policing service for all citizens of this state.”

We’ll be reporting from the AGSI annual delegate conference in Westport over the next two days, so keep an eye out and follow @michellehtweet for updates throughout the day. 

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

Read: Commissioner ‘more interested in corporate image than welfare of gardaí’>

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