Justice Minister Alan Shatter has launched a fresh attack on local garda stations confirming that his closure of nearly 40 stations in Dublin and across the country at the weekend was just the beginning of sustained attack on community policing, according to Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Dara Calleary.
Deputy Calleary has called on Minister Shatter to immediately clarify how many stations he intends to shut down and downgrade this year and next, and the savings he has identified from these closures.
“Minister Shatter went to great lengths last year to play down the extent of garda station closures and the impact this policy would have on local neighbourhoods and communities. He rubbished media reports that over 200 garda stations had been earmarked for closure or downgrade and said the number of closures would be ‘very small’ and there was no ‘reason for any community anywhere in the country to be alarmed’.
“Now it seems that the 39 stations Minister Shatter shut down at the weekend and the dozens more he has downgraded in Dublin and across the country were just phase one of a larger attack on local garda stations. The Minister is pushing ahead with a new round of closures in the coming months, raising fears that the level of closures will be much closer to the figures originally reports in the media last year.
“Minister Shatter has serious questions to answer about the real savings to be made from these closures. He has attempted to justify this as a purely a cost-savings exercise and yet he has been forced to admit that he is ‘unable’ to identify the cost of running each station that he earmarked for closure. I have said all along that the savings from shutting these stations are minimal and Minister Shatter has himself been unable to contradict me on this. People are struggling to understand how he can he decide which garda stations to close if he doesn’t how much each station costs to run.
“In opposition, Alan Shatter called for extra gardaí on the streets, claiming that areas of Dublin and elsewhere have become ‘lawless badlands’. He clearly understands the serious long-term consequences of removing a local garda station from a community. The very least these communities deserve is a reasonable explanation for why he is shutting down their garda stations, but so far the Minister has been unable to provide one.”