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Wednesday 17 October 2018

Pilot scheme identifies six garda stations for reopening immediately

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Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Six garda stations including the controversial Stepaside location in Shane Ross's constituency have been nominated for reopening within months under a government pilot scheme.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has briefed the Cabinet on the final report on bringing six stations back into use years after they were shut down.

Acting Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin has ordered the Office of Public Works to begin work to reopen the stations at Stepaside and Rush, Co Dublin, as well as Bawnboy, Co Cavan; Ballinspittle, Co Cork; Donard, Co Wicklow; and Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow.

Opposition TDs have claimed the criteria set out by Government for the reopening of stations was designed to result in Stepaside reopening.

There have been accusations of 'stroke politics' over the plan to reopen the station as Independent Alliance minister Shane Ross had been campaigning for it to happen.

Both he and the Government have denied the allegations.

Despite the controversy, Culture Minister and TD for Dublin Rathdown Josepha Madigan last night described the moves to reopen Stepaside as "a Christmas wish come true" for the area. She said the decision was a "major victory" for local residents.

An interim report on the pilot programme submitted to the Government in June recommended Stepaside for reopening.

Garda Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll's final report - completed in November - cited population growth as a reason to reopen Stepaside.

Mr O'Driscoll said the impact of Brexit on Ireland from a law enforcement perspective was as yet unknown, and it appeared advisable to use the pilot project to send extra personnel close to what will become the land Border between the EU and the UK.

Ballinspittle was chosen as the Census 2016 showed that the largest rural population increase took place in Co Cork.

Population increases in Wicklow were also cited for the recommendation of Donard.

Meanwhile, Leighlinbridge was selected in part because the town is vulnerable to mobile criminals using the nearby M9 motorway.

No Garda station in the western region was recommended for reopening amid a reduction in the number of property-related crimes between 2011 and 2017.

Irish Independent

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