Shutting Garda stations and post offices will leave locals vulnerable and isolated
The slow death of many of our rural towns and villages has been occurring for years. Their decline was delayed briefly during the first half of the past decade when thousands of building workers arrived to erect houses, shops and apartments. However, now many of these same buildings lie unsold and empty.
While building was taking place, small rural businesses received a temporary boost, but now that the builders have left, the spin-off jobs and general activity has gone with them. But people still live in these villages and those that remain are seeing traditional support systems being gradually eroded.
The closure of some rural Garda stations is just a start, and while there are financial reasons for shutting them, the comfort the presence a manned barracks brings to the community should not be underestimated.
The knowledge that a garda is present in the locality plays a huge part in crime prevention and where this support has been removed, vulnerable citizens such as the elderly, especially those living in isolated farm houses, must feel increasingly threatened.
It is recognised by police forces worldwide that if you concentrate on preventing the small crimes, the large offences rapidly reduce in number.
A Garda presence is invaluable. We need them in all our towns and villages and we need their help and a spirit of cooperation in maintaining local barracks throughout rural Ireland.
A further and even more important element in supporting and bonding any community is the local post office.