THE LONG- FEARED downgrading of Gorey Garda Station was finally made official last week with the publication of the 2013 Garda Policing Plan.
The Enniscorthy and Gorey Garda Districts will be amalgamated next year, meaning the loss of the Superintendent and Inspector based in Gorey. The entire district will now be overseen by the superintendent and inspector based in Enniscorthy, leading to concerns about the allocation of resources to population centres such as Courtown.
The highest ranking garda in Gorey will now be the sergeant in charge of the station. Gorey town councillor Colin Webb voiced his opposition to the decision taken by fellow Fine Gael member Justice Minister Alan Shatter. 'I think it is a serious mistake, a backward step,' he said. SUPERINTENDENT Maura Lernihan and Inspector Seán Clince will shortly be on the move from Gorey in the light of a decision in the Annual Policing Plan 2013 to amalgamate the Gorey and Enniscorthy Garda districts. And their administrative back up staff will also be assigned new places of work as the changes take effect.
The highest ranking Garda in the barracks beside the town's fire station will be an experienced sergeant most of the time as Enniscorthy's newer, larger, better equipped premises takes over as the nerve centre of policing for all of North Wexford. However, it is anticipated that the specialist traffic corps will continue to use Gorey as its HQ.
When the alterations come into effect some time in the new year, the area under the Enniscorthy writ will be a sizeable slice of territory, more like a district in the sparsely populated West of Ireland than typical of Leinster. Superintendent Liam Carolan can expect to be a busy man as he keeps track of everywhere from Bunclody and Ballindaggin to Castletown and Courtown. It is expected that some adjustments will be made in the existing boundaries, with Oylegate likely to be siphoned off to Wexford district, while Clonroche may be transferred to New Ross.
' This is a matter of concern and I would be totally against it,' said Gorey town councillor Colin Webb, opposing the decision taken by his fellow Fine Gael member Alan Shatter. He noted assurances given by Chief Superintendent John Roche that the change will not have any impact on front line policing but the councillor had his doubts: 'I think it is a serious mistake, a backward step.'
Fianna Fáil's Malcolm Byrne predicted that the role of superintendent for an area with a population of 70,000 people will be incredibly difficult. He noted that crime levels in the combined district are at the higher end of the national scale and that the rate of offending is on the rise.
' The most senior officer in Gorey will be a sergeant,' he pointed out. ' There has been a 42 per cent rise in reported crime over the past ten years in Gorey, with a dramatic increase in crime levels but Garda resources are shrinking. It does not make sense.'
He went on to complain that the number of Gardaí on duty in Courtown/Riverchapel is lower that it was 20 years ago, down to three Gardaí from a complement of a sergeant and four Gardaí. Against this background, he described the amalgamation of Enniscorthy and Gorey into one district as completely illogical.
Declan Dunbar, who represents Courtown community council on the Gorey joint policing committee was also worried about the new approach: ' Crime prevention is best and this does not sound like preventive strategy,' he remarked. ' The contact between the Guards and the general public is gone and this is another step in that process.'