Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Defence, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, TD has called on Minister Alan Shatter to “stop passing the buck” to the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan and his officers over garda station closures and damaging cutbacks to the gardaí.
He was speaking after hearing again today that station closures and other cutbacks are “a matter for the Garda Commissioner and senior gardaí”.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“Across the state, the impact of garda cutbacks is plain to see with garda stations closing, garda vehicles not being replaced or retired garda officers not being replaced.
“Yet every time we challenge the minister, he responds with catch phrases like ‘rationalisation’ or ‘smart policing’. It isn’t rational or smart to sap the morale of gardaí at the front line. It isn’t rational or smart to fundamentally undermine the partnership between gardaí and local communities”
“There is an increasing dread in rural Ireland about what cutbacks are coming next. I understand that Minister Shatter will soon confirm the closure of dozens more garda stations across the state. That means that more rural communities and some urban will be abandoned to ‘smart policing’ from a distance and lose that critically important presence on the ground”.
“The Garda Representative Association which represents frontline officers in the state has appealed to the government not to proceed with these closures, revealing that keeping many of these stations open costs around €3,000 per year. They have also revealed that since 2009, 560 vehicles have been removed from frontline units.
So from rank and file gardaí, we are getting the truth and from the minister and his senior gardaí, we are getting spin. Meanwhile, the damage is serious and the vital relationship between the gardaí and the communities they serve is being severely undermined.”