Improvement works underway at station but Gardaí still out
Electrical and other improvement works are underway at Sligo Garda Station as management try to reach a solution that will see members of the GRA return to work there.
However, a full refurbishment of the station costing €1.25m is unlikely to be completed until late next year. It's just over a week now since Gardaí walked out of the station citing intolerable health and safety issues as the reason.
It has also been revealed publicly for the first time that a site or sites close to the Summerhill College roundabout on the approach to Sligo along the N4 have been the subject of a bid by the OPW for purchasing as the site for the new Garda Station. The Sligo Champion understands that the OPW are anxious to conclude the deal as quickly as possible and has signed contracts but the hold-up is on the other side.
Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry has revealed that a tender for the refurbishment of the station has been issued but works are not due to be completed until the end of September next year.
Deputy MacSharry raised the issue with the head of HR with An Garda Síochána John Barrett at a Public Accounts Committee meeting.
"The delays in the provision of a new Garda station in Sligo are completely farcical. For two years, I have been calling on the Minister for Justice to outline a timeline for the provision of a new building following a Government commitment back in 2015. Since then there has been virtually no movement on securing a site for the new station and conditions at the Pearse road building have led to officers staging a protest", Deputy MacSharry.
"Ministers Fitzgerald and Flanagan have been stonewalling on the issue for over two years. Despite tabling several questions to the Ministers for Justice and the OPW seeking progress on a new site, the answers were vague, claiming that there would be "agreement on the purchase of a site soon" or that the Department would "reach agreement on the purchase shortly". This hands-off approach continued this week when Minister Charlie Flanagan, despite assuring me in the Dáil that he would be "happy to engage" with me on the issue, subsequently told me that it wasn't his responsibility to secure a site.
A public office has been set up in a house at Chapel Street, a building which was used previously by the Gardaí for training courses. GRA members walked out of the station on Monday.
Since then, various contractors have been engaged to carry out minor refurbishment work.
The station was also visited during the past week by the Chief Fire Officer who carried out an inspection in light of the health and safety concerns expressed by Gardaí. The stance taken by Gardaí has received the backing of the local business community.