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Friday 23 February 2018

Outrage as 41 garda stations to be sold off

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Cormac McQuinn and Hannah Popham

RURAL TDs and communities have expressed their outrage at the Government's announcement that it is selling over 40 closed garda stations for which the State can find no alternative use.

The slated closure of 139 stations nationwide has caused concern in many rural communities due to a spate of burglaries.

The vast majority of those stations have now been shut and the Office of Public Works (OPW) has announced that it is seeking estate agents to sell the vacated properties.

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae called the proposed sell-off “an absolute disgrace”, saying the stations should instead be given to local communities.

Junior minister Brian Hayes announced the scheme, saying: “We have identified that there is no alternate state use for these properties and the process of selling the 40 former garda stations marks the first phase of a disposal programme following on from the closure of 139 stations in the past 18 months.”

He added: “I have also received many requests from various community groups across the country expressing an interest in some of the former stations and I will be making a further announcement in relation to this in the middle of July.”

Some 41 stations are being offered to estate agents for sale in 21 lots. The OPW explained its disposal policy, which is to first examine the locations for state use, and secondly to consider sale on the open market.

If the first two options are “not suitable”, consideration would be given to applications from community groups.

A spokeswoman said the agency did not have an estimate for how much would be made from the sale of the stations.

One station at Camp in Mr Healy Rae's South Kerry constituency is listed for sale. He said the Government was breaking a promise to turn the stations over for community use.

“It's an absolute disgrace and I told the Tanaiste that,” he said.

Fianna Fail justice spokesman Niall Collins said: “I find it extremely difficult to accept that the Government could find no other use for these buildings that could benefit the local community.”

According to Mr Collins, the closure and sale of the stations is part “of a wider attack on rural communities”.

One community in west Cork expressed its disappointment that one of the stations listed for sale, Inchigeela, was not given to the community.

Margaret Peters, of the West Cork Community Alliance, suggested the building could have been used as a tourist information centre, saying the campaign group was “very, very disappointed” at the news.

Auctioneers interested in selling the properties have until July 19 to apply to the OPW.


Garda stations for sale

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