Closure of Garda Stations in Hollywood and Donard saves just €8,000 per annum while costing communities their security - Cllr John Brady
Sinn Féin General Election candidate Cllr John Brady has issued a stinging criticism of the Fine Gael and Labour Party government for jeopardising the safety of communities in West Wicklow in order to save a measly €8,000 per annum.
Garda stations in Hollywood and Donard were closed by the government in 2013. A response to a Parliamentary Question, submitted by Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Padráig MacLochlainn, now shows that the state only saved €4,000 per annum from the closure of each station.
Councillor Brady said;
“Figures from earlier this year, for the Baltinglass District where the two Garda stations were closed, show there was an increase of 50% in aggravated burglaries and a 41% increase in theft/unauthorised taking of vehicles since the closures. This has resulted in people living in rural Wicklow feeling more isolated and vulnerable. It is incredible such a state of vulnerability has been created in order to save a measly €8,000 per annum.
“It is clear that misguided decisions to close Garda stations in order to make small savings to the exchequer merely increase the opportunity for criminal activity and add to the uncertainty and fear that the citizens in this state are already experiencing under seven years of austerity.
“Minister Fitzgerald has also stated that objective the of closures wasn't cost savings but to allow for the ‘more efficient and effective deployment of resources’. It is very difficult to reconcile that justification with the fact that the closure these Garda Stations left people in our towns and village feeling far from safe. Many communities feel extremely vulnerable given the rise in crime in rural Ireland.
How can this be the outcome if the government is claiming that it is using policing resources more effectively and efficiently?
“The people of this constituency deserve first class public services. This means a fully resourced policing service and it means keeping our Garda stations open.
“We need to get Garda numbers back over the 14,000. That must be a priority in the forthcoming budget.”
QUESTION NO: 654
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald)
by Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn
for WRITTEN on Tuesday, 22nd September, 2015.
* To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the total savings to her Department resulting from the closure of Garda stations from 2011 to 2015..
- Pádraig Mac Lochlainn
The formulation of proposals in relation to the opening and closing of Garda stations is a matter, in the first instance, for the Garda Commissioner in the context of annual policing plans, as provided for in section 22 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
The Garda District and Station Rationalisation Programme was implemented in An Garda Síochána during 2012 and 2013. The primary objective of the programme was to identify opportunities to introduce strategic reforms to enhance service delivery, increase efficiency and streamline practices within the organisation. In its review of the Garda Station Network that informed the rationalisation programme, Garda management concluded in relation to certain stations that Garda resources could be better deployed and more effectively used on the front line if those stations no longer had to be staffed and maintained. In reaching these conclusions, Garda management reviewed all aspects of An Garda Síochána's policing model, including the deployment of personnel, the utilisation of modern technologies and the overall operation of Garda stations.
The Garda authorities advise me that policing services in all areas continue to be provided as required through the revised structures. In addition, the centralisation of services will facilitate the introduction of enhanced patrolling systems that will be operational and intelligence led. This patrol system will ensure that a high visibility and community oriented policing service continues to be delivered throughout the country and will yield the following benefits:
Increased Garda visibility and patrol hours
Increased mobility and flexibility within an area resulting in an improved policing service to the public
Enhanced co-ordination of Garda activity resulting in a greater visibility and presence in the communities
More effective use of limited resources across a wider area
Continued Garda presence in communities
An Garda Síochána is committed to providing the best possible policing service to the people of Ireland within the resources available. An Garda Síochána regularly reviews and assesses the capabilities and the deployment of Garda resources to provide a policing service that meets the needs of the community.
The ability of the organisation to contribute to Public Safety. Public Service and Community Protection remains the foremost consideration of An Garda Síochána.
The estimated savings on utilities and maintenance as a result of the closure of each station building is approximately €4,000 per annum. The closure of 139 Garda Stations has resulted in an estimated total saving to the state of €556,000 per annum. However, as I have stated, the key objective involved when closing Garda stations was to promote the more efficient and effective deployment of resources rather than to secure modest cash savings.