Sinn Féin TD for Wicklow John Brady has said he is astonished at the admittance by the acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin that the decision not to re-open Donard Garda station, and others, was a political one taken by the Government.
Teachta Brady said:
“Donard Garda Station in West Wicklow was one of 139 Garda stations closed in the State since 2011.
“The Programme for Government makes a clear commitment to reopen 6 Garda Stations as part of a pilot scheme within two months of the current government taking office.
“The interim report on the re-opening of these Garda stations has been prepared by the Garda Commissioner and is currently with the Department of Justice. This report was due to be published in July and is now almost three months delayed.
“Under intense questioning from my colleague Deputy Mary Lou McDonald, the acting Garda Commissioner admitted to the PAC that a draft interim report on reopening Garda stations recommended that Donard Garda Station should re-open, amongst others, but that a political decision was taken by the Government to re-open Stepaside Garda Station but not Donard Garda Station.
“The revelation that Stepaside Garda Station was cherry-picked over all other Garda Stations for political reasons is astonishing and worrying.
“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.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that this Government is stalling for time and has no desire to re-open the closed Garda Stations.
“This is completely unacceptable and I am calling on the Minister for Justice to immediately publish this report and commence the pilot scheme without further delay.”