COMMUNITIES across the country expressed their anger at the closure of their local garda stations, with some offering to pay the costs of keeping a police presence in the community.
The lack of gardai on the ground would result in vulnerable people living in isolated areas being preyed on by criminal gangs.
And there was disbelief that the move would save the State money, as the cost of keeping a local station open was as little as €3,000 a year.
However, the loss to communities will be far higher than any money saved, with people feeling unprotected over the lack of a garda in their parish at the closure of the stations this week.
COMMUNITIES will be left "ripe for attack" after the closure of five stations in Cavan and Meath.
One garda sergeant warned it would mean front-line officers would lose contact with the local community.
"The Garda in Ireland has always prided itself on local knowledge," he said.
"With the removal of the local policeman, that contact with the people will be lost."
Fianna Fail councillor Shane Cassells said the move would leave communities "ripe for attack" by those who preyed on people living in the areas.
FIVE Cork garda stations closed yesterday and another began winding down before shutting next week.
Rathduff, Mallow Road and MacCurtain Street stations closed in Cork city while Ballinspittle and Adrigole (Beara) stations closed in west Cork
Barrack Street station, one of the oldest in the State, ceased major operational duties yesterday and will permanently shut down over the coming days.
From next month, Angelsea Street will be the only 24-hour garda station left in Cork city.
LOCALS in Beaufort in Co Kerry have vowed to continue their struggle to keep their station open.
"Our aim is to keep up the pressure," chair of the community council Tim Moriarty said.
"People here felt they could go to the local station in confidence and it just won't be the same walking into a big garda station in Killarney or Killorglin," he added.
Nine garda stations in Co Kerry closed yesterday – Beaufort, Brosna, Abbeydorney, Camp, Fenit, Kilgarvan, Ballinskelligs and Valentia.
LOCALS in Kiltullagh, Co Galway have lost their garda station which closed on Wednesday, despite being the village where junior minister Ciaran Cannon was raised.
Ten stations will close in the State's second-largest county, with locals expressing concern they would be placed in the care of stations miles away.
The stations in Co Galway to close are: Kilconly, Menlough, Kiltullagh, Tynagh, Kilchreest, Kilcolgan, Leenane, New Inn, Shanaglish, and Ballymoe.
Gort district headquarters will also be downgraded and stripped of its district HQ status.
A LONGFORD community is offering to pay the running costs of its garda station in a bid to retain the service.
Fine Gael councillor Micheal Carrigy has written to the Garda Commissioner in an effort to keep Ballinalee station open.
"The saving that was going to be made for the State on decommissioning our station was basically the running costs," he explained, adding the annual bill was just €3,000 a year.
"We felt that as a community we are prepared to meet the cost," he said.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has yet to respond to the proposal.
THE north-west is losing 14 rural garda stations in the cutbacks, mostly in remote rural areas.
Two districts are also disappearing – one in Sligo/ Leitrim and one in Donegal.
Nine stations closed in Sligo /Leitrim, one of them at Easkey in an area where travelling criminal gangs have been behind a series of house raids.
Also closed are Aclare, Ballyfarnon, Cloone, Dromod, Keshcarrigan, Dromahair, Glenfarne and Cliffoney.
In Donegal there is particular anger in Glencolmcille and Churchill – villages which attract huge numbers of tourists every year to enjoy outdoor pursuits.
Malin, Brockagh and Annagry stations have also now closed.
A REBEL Labour senator who resigned the party whip over the government cuts in childcare has criticised the closure of five rural garda stations in Co Limerick.
Senator James Heffernan, said the move would leave the elderly more vulnerable, and affect gardai "whose morale is at an all-time low".