Donegal Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has demanded a statement from the Minister for Justice about the future of policing Co Donegal amid reports that the Government is set to close 24 garda stations across the county.
Senator Ó Domhnaill said: “Fianna Fáil is deeply concerned about reports that the Government is planning to shut down as many as 200 rural garda stations nationwide – with 24 earmarked for closure in Co Donegal alone. I raised the issue in the Seanad today while my colleague Dara Calleary TD, Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson, demanded answers from Minister Shatter in the Dáil.
“The Minister’s response was totally inadequate. He refused to guarantee that this extent of closures will not take place. In fact, he tried to wash his hands of the issue entirely despite his vigorous opinions on the matter when he was in opposition. Alan Shatter has completely abandoned his own policy on garda numbers and blatantly rowed back on the commitments he made in relation to community policing. Just last year, when in opposition, he said: “This reduction in garda numbers will greatly obstruct the battle against crime. Drug gangs will be toasting it.”
“We accept the need to reduce costs within An Garda Síochána in order to bring down public spending. However, there is away to do this without targeting rural communities and wiping out their garda resources. In difficult economic times, unless policing policy is managed correctly, crimes rates go up. One of the most basic requirements of a sensible policy is the requirement to maintain a Garda presence in isolated rural communities. The projected number of Gardaí properly managed can provide this.
“People are finding it very worrying that Minister Alan Shatter continues to avoid any commitment to policing plans in rural communities. This must be addressed without delay.”