LOCAL residents in Justice Minister Alan Shatter's own Dublin South constituency are fighting proposals to close their garda station tooth and nail.
The garda station in Stepaside, Co Dublin – a once rural village which has morphed into a satellite of the capital with a population of 20,000 – is pencilled in for closure on a date as yet unknown.
A rally is scheduled to take place there at 2pm on Sunday to protest against the decision.
At the station yesterday, staff at the front counter were busily handling passport queries, a man reporting a stolen jacket and various other humdrum but necessary tasks.
A book on the counter marked "Any Comments about Stepaside Garda Station Closing" contained numerous entries from local residents' associations, schools and concerned individuals.
Dropping in to have a form signed, Norbert Grey of Sandyford said the loss of the station would be "disastrous".
"We will fight this," he said, adding that he and his wife would attend the rally.
At the Step Inn pub, owner John McCluskey explained that he had bought the business seven years ago specifically because there was a garda station across the road.
"It's no coincidence that neither we nor the post office has ever been burgled," he said.
"It's not even the money because everything is under time lock – it's the trauma we'd go through if we were robbed. They killed a detective – they're certainly not going to spare us."
Des Kennedy from the Centra shop and post office, who has lived in Stepaside for over 40 years, called on the minister to "take another look at the area" before considering the closure.
"There are 20 businesses here, with a population of over 20,000," he said. "The timing of this just does not make sense. There has never been more of a reason to keep the station open."
Some of his customers live in very isolated areas where only the local gardai would know "where to find people," he said.
At the Get Fresh fruit and veg store, Jean Dermody revealed that many of her customers had been burgled recently.
"We would feel very insecure without the station being open. We'd miss the presence," Ms Dermody said.