Failure to plan for station closures infuriates gardai
THE Government has been accused of shutting down garda stations around the country without creating a policy to deal with the fall-out from the closures.
The annual conference of the Garda Representative Association in Westport, Co Mayo, heard yesterday that the decision had created severe accommodation problems for officers affected by the closures.
The authorities were hurriedly erecting portacabins in already crowded stations to cope with the spillover of gardai from barracks that had been shut down, delegates said.
Association central executive committee member Ultan Sherlock said that in his division in Dublin East, they had lost three stations to the government decision, the latest – in Kill o' the Grange – had taken place last week.
This had caused huge problems for accommodation in the division.
"We are bewildered and we can't figure it out," he added.
Mr Sherlock pointed out that in other jurisdictions where there had been closures affecting the police force, additional space and buildings had been created in the bigger stations before the smaller ones had been shut down.
But in this country there seemed to be no policy making whatsoever, apart from the political decision to close almost 140 stations.
Mr Sherlock said that in his division, Cabinteely station was already in a delapidated and extremely run down state.
Yet, a portacabin was being erected at the back of the station to cope with the influx of members from Kill o' the Grange.
Dun Laoghaire station was also overrun with gardai from the closed stations in Dalkey and Kill o' the Grange in south county Dublin and a portacabin was expected to be put in there within the next two weeks.
In Dundrum the first phase of a building project had been completed but the rest of the accommodation there was in a dire state and the gardai could not understand why the Government had not waited until the project was completed before closing down the station at Stepaside.
As shift workers, members of the gardai deserved basic working and living conditions, including catering facilities, which were currently very poor.
Without an overall government policy, the problems stemming from the closures were likely to worsen, Mr Sherlock added.
General secretary of the Garda Representative Association, P J Stone, said they had seen the Government dismantling the garda force "brick by brick".
He believed a new commission should be tasked with looking at appointments as well as pay.
He told his association's annual conference that suspicions of bias would continue to exist until political parties were taken out of the equation.