Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins has said the fact that the government saved just over €500,000 from the closure of 139 garda stations demonstrates just how counterproductive the entire policy has been.
Deputy Collins commented: “It has been clear to us from day one that this policy was very dangerous. We can now see exactly the serious impact that the policy has had on rural communities. Towns across the country feel increasingly isolated and more vulnerable to criminals. The closure of rural garda stations in some cases accelerated the decline of some communities as private sector took its lead from the government’s decision to withdraw state services.
“I’m not surprised at all that the closure of 139 garda stations saved a negligible amount of money but the impact in these communities has been much greater. The Minister’s attempts to justify the closures by saying they have freed-up more gardaí for frontline policing it not the reality on the ground. There is a lack of visibility in many town and villages across the country as gardaí are now based further away.
“Fianna Fáil believes the strength of the garda force has fallen to a dangerously low level and with more gardaí retiring every year we need to ramp-up recruitment. This has not been a priority for the government. It finally took the election cycle to wake the government into action. Six months out from the election and Fine Gael and Labour have finally realised they need to recruit more gardaí. The government’s plan is too little too late.”