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Friday 22 September 2017

Post office raiders strike as axe falls on local garda HQ

Shane Phelan and Greg Harkin

ARMED raiders targeted a post office hours before it was confirmed the local garda HQ was to be downgraded.

Three robbers – who were armed with a pistol, a knife and a concrete saw – escaped with thousands of euro on the same day campaigners were told that their battle against the downgrading of Gorey garda station had finally been lost.

Letters were issued to local politicians confirming the garda station was to lose its superintendent from next Monday and become a "hub" for Enniscorthy. It will, however, remain open 24 hours.

Fianna Fail councillor Malcolm Byrne told the Irish Independent: "It's ironic that the post office was robbed at the same time we got notice of the garda station downgrade, which is happening despite a long-running campaign against it."

The downgrade – a process that is being replicated around the country as garda cutbacks take hold – comes despite a surge in burglaries and sexual offences in the Gorey area.

Burglaries almost doubled from 74 in 2011 to 129 last year, according to official garda statistics, while 22 sexual offences were recorded last year – compared to just three in 2011.

GETAWAY

Yesterday's raid took place at 9.15am, just as the Courtown Harbour post office was opening. And the gang all wore dark-coloured clothing, hats and gloves."They threatened staff and left with a substantial sum of money. "A vehicle used in the getaway was subsequently found close-by and will be technically examined," said a garda spokesman.

Meanwhile, rank and file gardai have accused the Government of "abandoning" rural Ireland as the axe falls on garda districts

The Glenties district in Co Donegal will cease to exist from next Monday after 50 years.

Gardai will be moved to the Ballyshannon and Milford districts, while the district's Superintendent Michael Finan has been transferred to Letterkenny.

"It's the end of community policing in Glenties and the surrounding area as we know it.

"We are fed up with Alan Shatter talking about smart policing. Withdrawing from the community which helps you police isn't smart. It's stupid," said one member.

It was claimed the Glenties closure would have a knock-on effect on other districts.

"If a patrol car on night duty is covering the expanded Milford district, it could be an hour-and-a-half away from an incident," said another member.

"Fifty years of community relations have been chucked in the bin," added the garda.

Around 100 garda stations were closed earlier this year.

Irish Independent

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