Local groups can apply to use closed garda stations
COMMUNITY groups are being invited to apply to take over the raft of garda stations closed by Justice Minister Alan Shatter – but the Government will try to sell the buildings first.
Mr Shatter closed 139 garda stations in a hugely controversial move that caused uproar in many communities.
The majority of the buildings are now empty and have passed into the ownership of the Office of Public Works (OPW), which is in charge of the State's property portfolio.
Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes, who is in charge of the OPW, is inviting applications for them to be used by locals.
However, he said the Government's priority was to firstly find alternative state use for the buildings or sell them on the open market.
Mr Hayes says he has received around 20 expressions of interest from community groups already, adding the "last thing" the Government wanted to see "are garda stations in a derelict condition".
However, Fianna Fail justice spokesman Niall Collins described the OPW move as an "insult" to towns that were going to lose their gardai.
"Is this supposed to make up for the loss of the garda in the community? Are people who come home to find their house ransacked supposed to think, 'well, it's not too bad, we have the building down the road'?" he asked.