ONE of the busiest urban garda stations in the country is set to close "in a matter of weeks" as part of the Government's nationwide review of services.
One-hundred local residents and business owners gathered at Lamb's Cross Community Centre in Stepaside, Co Dublin, in a desperate attempt to halt the imminent closure of Stepaside garda station.
The meeting was attended by Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who heard several speakers who said the decision would spell disaster for the area and lead to a surge in crime.
A particular cause of concern is that the Stepaside station covers such a wide area with a population catchment of up to 20,000. But Chief Superintendent Diarmuid O'Sullivan aimed to reassure them that a range of measures will be put in place to compensate for the closure, adding that the service gardai provide would "improve in the long run".
"In the future, we will have a CAB system, which is a specialist dispatch system and is a different type of policing," he said.
"We won't have a building in Stepaside but we will have a computer system that will designate gardai to areas where crime will be considered hotpoints. . .
"All I can tell you is that the station is closing in weeks, rather than months," he added.
The station covers the villages of Stepaside, Glencullen and Sandyford and encompasses the Carrickmines and Leopardstown shopping centres and a number of industrial estates.
The meeting was attended by Mr Shatter and Independent TD Shane Ross as well as a number of local councillors.
Labour councillor Lettie McCarthy warned that if the 35 Stepaside gardai were transferred to Dundrum garda station they would be removed from the heart of the community.
" Gardai based in an area are aware of issues affecting people as you are constantly meeting people on the streets and in banks."
Local resident Anne Doherty (71), who has lived in Sandyford all her life, said the decision to close the station was "simply a cost-saving measure which does not reflect the reality of what's needed on the ground".