Garda veterans gather as Kill station in Kildare closes down
GARDA veterans gathered to bid a final farewell to policing in one rural station before its doors were closed for the last time.
Some 15 former gardai and sergeants who served in Kill, Co Kildare, over the years were invited back for one final visit before the barracks shut.
Garda Pat Murphy, who will start his shift in Naas tomorrow, said it was a sad day for the community who felt reassured by its presence.
But for the former colleagues, some who had been based there for almost 20 years, the day brought back fond memories.
"They were just reminiscing about stories of policing," said Gda Murphy.
"Back then, in the 60s, when there was no patrol car they used to stay in the accommodation.
"It was good fun, they were delighted because a lot of them wouldn't have met each other.
"But there was a lot of sadness to see the station closing and policing coming to an end in Kill village."
The garda station was originally opened in 1922 and rebuilt in 1977. In recent years it has had one garda and a sergeant, who open the station for three hours a day.
But it stayed open till dusk day for the visitors, who included retired Gda Willie Connor (1982 - 2001) and former Sgt Mick Murphy (1990 to 2008).
Gda Murphy, who has 27 years' service and almost three in Kill, admitted he'll be sad to leave the close knit community, who fear they won't get as good a service.
"We've had to reassure people there will be patrols in the area and that it isn't a big distance from Naas," he continued.
"But people had that sense of security. People always knew the local guard and talked to them in confidence."
John Parker, president of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), said the closures were not about bricks and mortar, but having officers embedded in their communities who are trusted.
He fears while small stations have been closed to date, medium sized ones will be hit next making policing centralised.
"It's evident there will be another tranche (of stations) identified towards the end of the year," he said.
"Communities who think 'not in my back yard' need to be the looking over their shoulders."
Only five stations out of the 100 that are closing were required to open for more than four hours a day.
They included Barrack Street in Cork city which opened 9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm and 7pm-10pm between Monday and Saturday and another five hours over the course of morning and evening on a Sunday.
In Dublin, the Stepaside station opened 7am-9pm each day and retained three sergeants and 31 gardai, as did Kill-O'Grange, with two sergeants and 26 gardai.
Ballyglass and Ballyvary, Co Mayo, opened two hours in the morning and two in the evening Monday-Saturday.
Among those closing that only opened for one hour a day were Mountshannon, Co Clare; Kilconly, Ballymoe and Menlough in Galway; Malin in Donegal; Ballyforan and Knockcroghery in Roscommon-Longford; Inistioge in Kilkenny, except for two hours on a Tuesday; Kiltealy in Wexford; Terryglass in Tipperary; Meelin, west Cork; Redhills, Cavan-Monaghan, except for two hours on a Sunday; and Camp, Fenit and Abbeydorney, Co Kerry; Hollymount, Mayo.