Donegal North East Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue has called on the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to take a proactive role in ensuring that rural Garda stations and services are protected.
“There are twin threats threatening the level of service currently provided by the Gardai – firstly, the imminent retirement of almost 10% of the force and secondly fresh reports that Garda Chief Superintendents have been asked to draw up a list of Garda stations that could be shut down order to cut costs.
“Minister Shatter has been attempting to distance himself from both of these issues in a way that is unacceptable and will no longer wash with the public. He now needs to take a hands on approach in working with Garda management to ensure that the threat to services is addressed.
“The Minister must make public details of how Garda retirements could affect Garda Stations after the February deadline, when almost 10% of the force are eligible to take retirement. He also needs to hold immediate discussions with Garda management about rumours now circulating that lists are being drawn up of stations facing closure.
“Reports in today’s national papers suggest the potential closure of up to 24 Garda stations in Donegal as a cost cutting exercise. The Minister must immediately intervene in this issue by working with Garda management and outline how he plans to respond in a way that will protect stations and policing in rural areas.
“In light of the spate of armed robberies on rural post offices and the horrendous arson attacks locally, I had asked the Minister for Justice to outline the change in Garda numbers from August 2010 to August 2011l. Donegal is already down 16 Gardaí during the past 12 months. In fact, Garda numbers are down by a total of 54 during this same period across the border counties. These numbers cannot afford to drop any further with the on-going threat from dissidents on top of the everyday challenges of policing such a large geographical area.”