Thursday 22 March 2018

Shatter jeered over closure of station

Pictured at The Open The Garda Station Rally at Stepaside yesterday were; Kate Morrison (10) and Blaithín McCarthy (10).
Pictured at The Open The Garda Station Rally at Stepaside yesterday were; Kate Morrison (10) and Blaithín McCarthy (10).

Eimear Rabbitte

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter was met by a chorus of jeering and catcalls as he spoke at a public protest about the ongoing closure of a south Dublin garda station.

Mr Shatter, pictured right, who was Justice Minister when his local Stepaside station was closed in 2013, told the Irish Independent that the decision was an operational one made by then Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and said it wasn't his place to engage in "special pleading" on behalf of constituents.

Around 500 people from the Stepaside area, which currently has a population of 22,000, attended a public meeting to discuss the closure of the station in April 2013.

The closure of the station, along with 138 others across the country, was signed off by then Justice Minister Shatter. The closures are saving the State €556,000 per year, according to figures released by Frances Fitzgerald last year.

Yesterday, angry locals described how they are living in fear as a result of a spike in the number of burglaries in the area.

The latest CSO figures show a 34pc increase in burglaries across the Dublin Eastern division, which covers Stepaside.

Former deputy director general at RTÉ, Bobby Gahan, who lives next door to Stepaside Garda Station, described how he has had burglars enter his property on two occasions since the closure, while another resident told of how her property has been targeted three times.

"It was an operational decision of the Garda Commissioner to close 139 stations," Mr Shatter told this newspaper.

"It wasn't for me as minister to engage in special pleading on behalf of constituents in circumstances where the operational advice was we would be better off with gardaí doing regular policing work, rather than sitting at a desk in Stepaside."

Mr Shatter also hit out at a promise made by other speakers at yesterday's event, including Independent TD Shane Ross and Fianna Fáil Senator Mary White, that the decision to close Stepaside station could be reversed, describing it as "seriously misleading".

Irish Independent

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