THE Leighlinbridge community was angered this week to learn that its Garda station will shut.
' There has been a Garda station in Leighlinbridge since the foundation of the State and its closure will break a very important link between the gardaí and the community,' said local councillor Michael Doran.
'Two gardaí are currently stationed at the station in Leighlinbridge on a part-time basis and provide a very valuable role to the community. The real danger is the breaking of the strong links that the community in the parish have had over the years with the gardaí. By closing the station and moving the personnel to Bagenalstown, Leighlinbridge will lose local contact with the gardaí.'
Locals believe that the location of the village close to the motorway intersection leaves the village vulnerable to crime.
'There has been an increase in crime in the area and gardaí have been successful in curbing some of the more serious cases and prosecutions have been applied. However, anti-social behaviour incidents and petty crimes appear to be on the rise in the area,' he added.
'No alternative has been announced regarding Garda liaison with the community but it is understood the gardaí may be forced to rent a location in the village on a weekly basis to hold clinics. No upgrading of the station in Bagenalstown has been announced and more importantly the Garda squad fleet in the area is totally inadequate for the area the gardaí are expected to police.
'It is hard to justify the closure of the station on a financial-only basis as the cost to run the station is so low and it would be bizarre to think that the gardaí would have to rent an office on a weekly basis with the Garda station standing idle.'
The matter is being raised with the Garda Commissioner.