Calls for Donard Garda Station to be re-opened
Cllr Timmins and Deputy Brady say community left vulnerable
The rural community of Donard in west Wicklow has suffered because of the closure of its local garda station and calls are now being made to reinstate the station.
This is according to Edward Timmins, Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, who also said the area in west Wiclow has been left devoid of any State services.
'Any move to re-open Donard Garda Station would be welcome. There is extensive areas of rural housing and farms with no nearby towns and no garda presence,' said Cllr Timmins.
'East Wicklow has the council offices, there's a small council office in Blessington but there is no public service presence in west Wicklow - apart from three excellent schools.'
Re-opening the garda station would, he said, give some confidence to the rural community that they have not been forgotten.
'The rural community here needs support. They have suffered without garda presence and for people to know there is a garda station there they can access, that itself would be a sign of support for rural Ireland.'
Donard Garda Station was one of 139 Garda stations nationwide to have closed its doors since 2013. The building has since been put to use as a base for the Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue and Wicklow Red Cross.
'I am sure there is something in the lease that allows the Department of Justice to take the building back if required,' said Cllr Timmins.
Controversy was sparked last week when an interim report recommended the re-opening of Stepaside Garda Station in Minister for Transport Shane Ross's constituency in what has been called 'cherry picking.'
Although Donard Garda station has been recommended to be re-open in the course of the proposed pilot project, additional research on crime trends and relevant CSO statistics have to be completed before it is considered. This is according to the interim report on the proposal to re-open six garda stations published this week where it is reported the Assistant Commissioner with responsibility for the Eastern Region has requested the additional research in advance of the re-opening of the station.
Echoing Cllr Timmins calls for the reopening of Donard Station, Deputy John Brady said: 'There has been a growing concern that the closure of local Garda stations has reduced Garda visibility and made rural communities vulnerable to crime. This has contributed to many older people feeling vulnerable in their homes, particularly those in isolated areas.
'In addition, farmers have increasingly found themselves dealing with the theft of valuable farm machinery and livestock,' he said.
He said he was astonished that Stepaside Garda Station was 'cherry-picked' over all other Garda stations for 'political reasons'.
Deputy Brady accused the Government of 'stalling for time'. He has also called for the Minister for Justice to immediately publish the full report and to 'commence the pilot scheme without further delay.'