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Callinan vows citizens not affected by garda station closures

IRELAND’S most senior garda officer has vowed no citizen will be left unprotected during his watch.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan insisted communities would not be left abandoned because of station closures being implemented under austerity cutbacks.

The police chief said lesser-used stations to be shut down - which cost between €2,500 and €4,000 a year to run - were not "critical to the new policing model".

Under questioning about his ability to cope with the spending cuts, he was adamant the force would provide the same service as before, using the likes of community halls and post offices to provide services once given at stations.

"There will be no withdrawal of services - not on my watch," he told an Oireachtas justice committee.

"It's not a case of abandoning anyone - that will never occur."

Mr Callinan said the force had looked at several factors before earmarking stations for closure, including the demographics of the area it served, footfall at the station as well as the number and types of crimes committed in the area.

The information was drawn up to provide a "critical analysis" of the station and what it represented to the community.

Mr Callinan said although not costly to run, quite a number of the lesser-used stations were in a poor state of repair.

While it is clearly the case criminal gangs are travelling the length and breadth of the country carrying out burglaries and other misdemeanours, he insisted it would be police work and not the bricks and mortar of buildings which would stop them.

Some 39 garda stations have already been closed this year as part of the Government-imposed austerity measures. More are to be shut in a fresh phase of closures next year.