Garda station reopening ‘politically driven from start to finish’ – McDonald
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD today described the acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin’s confirmation that the Government set the criteria for reopening Garda stations and prioritised the reopening of Stepaside as “politics outranking policing”.
The Public Accounts Committee member said:
“In July, the now acting Garda Commissioner agreed at a meeting of the PAC to provide the methodology and the matrix applied to differentiate between each of the Garda stations considered for reopening.
“Subsequently, the acting Commissioner informed the committee that he does not have the authority to provide the information contained within the relevant interim report.
“Just last week, the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, in reply to a parliamentary question, stated that he has no role in the reopening of Garda stations or responsibility for the formulation of proposals in relation to the opening and closing of Garda stations.
“Yet today, the acting Garda Commissioner informed the Public Accounts Committee that it is the Government who not only set the criteria for the reopening of Garda stations but that the Government also chose to reopen Stepaside. This is a gross intrusion by Government into Garda operational matters and completely at odds with the Justice Minister’s statement that the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the resources available to An Garda Síochána.
“It is also extraordinary that only Stepaside, one of a number of Garda Stations earmarked in the Garda Commissioner interim report, was reopened before the report has even been finalised by Government. At today’s PAC meeting, the acting Commissioner set out a sequence of events and facts that makes clear the process for reopening Garda stations was politically driven from start to finish.”