Two rusty garda vans returned to units with new engines and then scrapped (again)
Two garda vans taken out of service because they were deemed too dangerous to drive were later returned to their units with new engines.
However, both had to be scrapped again, the Irish Independent has learned.
Cash-strapped garda bosses spent thousands of euro replacing engines in the worn-out vehicles, which had to be scrapped within months.
A 2005-registered Fiat garda van was declared 'end of life' by gardaí in Co Donegal in March last year and taken to Dublin.
But six months later it was sent back to Donegal with a new engine, only to be scrapped recently due to corrosion.
The van had been used in the Milford district before it was 'scrapped' for the first time and was returned to Letterkenny, where a second vehicle was also taken out of service and returned to Garda HQ in Dublin.
That 2008-registered Ford Transit garda van was also deemed too dangerous to drive due to corrosion. It was referred to as 'the rust bucket' by gardaí in Letterkenny.
On March 2, the day the Irish Independent carried an article on the lack of garda vehicles in Donegal, the Transit was sent back to the county. Again a new engine had been installed.However, last week the Transit was again taken out of service due to rust and corrosion.
Gardaí had refused to drive it, saying it was a danger to them and to prisoners. Plans are being made to return the van to Phoenix Park once again.
"This is a mystery because the only reason that it was scrapped in the first place was because of corrosion," said one source.
Policing budgets in Donegal have been slashed in the past five years. The main town in the county - Letterkenny - has been left without a custody van because of the crisis.
Another van, which was in service in south Donegal, has been loaned to gardaí in Sligo town because of the lack of a suitable vehicle there.
There have also been complaints about a lack of garda vehicles in Clare, Kerry and Cork at a time when Government policy is to close garda stations and increase mobile patrols, especially in rural areas.
"It appears there is no shortage of good and new garda vans in Dublin," complained one garda.
Disillusioned gardaí cheered last week when the Donegal division received a new unmarked traffic corps car, the only one in the county.
In recent years six public order patrol vans have been withdrawn from Donegal, with no replacements being provided.
"The withdrawal of these essential vehicles raises serious issues for the safety of the members I represent," said the Garda Representative Association's Brenda O'Connor last month.
A Garda spokesman said: "We do not comment on operational matters."