Fianna Fáil General Election candidate Rita McInerney has expressed concern that plans to overhaul An Garda Síochána policing Divisions may have a negative impact on policing in County Clare.

The new Divisions to be brought in over the next three years will see the Clare Division merged with Tipperary.

She commented, “I am very worried by these changes. They risk diluting policing services, particularly in rural areas of Clare. Communities are particularly fearful about the prospect of Kilrush losing its Superintendent – while this has not been confirmed, the lack of detail and information available is creating anxiety across the county.

“The loss of the Superintendent in Kilrush would be devastating, as it caters for all of north Clare, while Ennistymon doesn’t even have a 24-hour Garda Station. There are also major issues with resources in the county – with major gaps in the provision of training, equipment and vehicles.

“It looks likely that if the new Division goes ahead in the proposed format the Divisional HQ could be based in Tipperary. In my view there is a possibility that this may entirely alienate Clare which I fear could end up being an afterthought for any Superintendent overseeing the area.

“While I welcome the addition of 1,000 front line Gardaí for Community Policing, I would like to see more detail as to where these Gardaí will be stationed, and whether rural parts of the country are sufficiently catered for.

“I will be engaging with members of An Garda Síochána locally of all ranks to get their own opinions on the changes. We need to ensure we have a robust Garda force, particularly given the uncertainty of Brexit and threat of rural crime.

“Rural Garda Stations have been closed down. Now, this amalgamation of Divisions will be looked upon cynically as another attempt to reduce costs. Any costs saved should be reinvested into frontline Garda services in our area,” she concluded.