Threat to Garda Stations nationwide as cuts to budget anticipated
Published 19/09/2011 | 11:01
UP TP 200 Garda stations could face closure after this year’s Budget as the Government looks to cut funding.
The Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has asked chief superintendents around the country to draw up a list of stations that could be closed as the Force prepares for government cuts to its budget.
It is thought that the stations most likely to be closed are those manned by a single officer in rural areas.
County Donegal is expected see a significant amount of closures with up to 24 stations being earmarked due to the number of small and "part-time" Garda stations there.
There are 240 one-man Garda stations nationwide of a total of just over 700 stations.
The proposed closures come as at a time when Garda Siochana ranks are on the verge of a significant drop-off. Membership within the force is facing a large fall as the rate of retirement increases, combined with the suspension of Garda recruitment. Garda numbers have already fallen by 500 to about 14,000 and an estimated 1,200 members have 30 years of service and are entitled to take early retirement immediately.
A recent report by RTÉ's Prime Time has warned that 8pc of Gardai stations will be left without a permanent Garda if all those who are eligible to retire do so by next February.
The report also went on to say that over 10pc of stations could be left with no permanent sergeants and that some Garda stations and specialist units face potential losses at every rank.
Almost 1,200 gardaí (8pc) of all ranks can leave before next February. If they do not leave their pensions will be reduced and gratuities taxed. If this were to happen, 39 stations would not have a permanent sergeant, while 51 would not have a permanent Gardai presence making closures inevitable.
33 out of the 44 chief superintendents can retire early at any time which could lead to a significant lack of seniority within the Force.
Closing stations could be a politically sensitive move by the Government who are already under pressure from the electorate due to cuts in public spending since they took office.