Saturday 24 February 2018

Shane Ross denies Garda station reopening in his constituency was 'stroke politics'

Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin
Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Transport Minister Shane Ross last night denied the decision to reopen Stepaside Garda Station was the result of "stroke politics."

Mr Ross defended the re-opening of the station in his constituency, insisting the case made for the future use of Stepaside Garda Station was compelling.

He told RTÉ's 'Primetime': "Was it stroke politics? The answer to that is absolutely no. I campaigned for the reopening of all the garda stations that shouldn't have been closed in that period of time. It was a bad policy, it was a wrong policy."

Stepaside was one of 139 closed since 2011 as a result of cutbacks. The Programme for Government between Fine Gael and Independent TDs committed to the reopening of six stations on a pilot basis and An Garda Síochána was asked to provide a report identifying those which should be picked. Mr Ross engaged in a high-profile campaign in relation to the station and the decision to reopen it was announced following a Cabinet meeting in June, at which the interim report was discussed. The move led to claims there had been favourable treatment for the minister's pet project.

Mr Ross added: "Let me take you back to 2013, I campaigned while in opposition against the closure to Stepaside Garda Station.

"I campaigned for this for three years and during the general election I said openly that it was my policy that Garda stations should not have been closed."

Mr Ross's comments came after Acting Garda Commissioner Donall Ó Cualáin said he is not aware of anyone putting pressure on the force to give priority to reopening the station.

Mr Ó Cualáin also told the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that Stepaside and five others were identified in the interim report by Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll.

However, Stepaside is the only station so far confirmed to reopen and no decision will be made in relation to the other five until the report is finalised in the coming weeks.

Mr Ó Cualáin insisted it was a Garda decision to reopen the station. "I am not aware that anyone brought pressure to bear," he said.

Irish Independent

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