Large crowds turned out yesterday in the home constituency of Justice Minister Alan Shatter to demand a reversal of his controversial plans to close the Garda station in Stepaside, Co Dublin.
Around 1,500 people took part in an official protest in the village located in the foothills of the Dublin mountains.
Local independent TD Shane Ross said the protest was designed to send a message to the Government that the community would not take the closure of a vital pillar of their society lying down.
“We demand a reversal of this decision,” said Mr Ross.
He pointed out that the station served an area which had grown from a small village to one which now is home to around 20,000 people.
“These people will be increasingly vulnerable to crime in a country where some forms of localised crime is sky-rocketing,” said Mr Ross.
The gathering was also addressed by local Labour councillor Lettie McCarthy, as well as former Garda assistant commissioner Martin Donnellan, who expressed doubt that there was any objective review of the decision to close the station in Stepaside.
Locals formed a human chain around the station, while a minute’s silence was also held at the start of the demonstration in memory of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe, who was killed in the line of duty last month.
Stepaside is one of five Garda stations due to shut later this year following the closure of 95 stations last week as part of a major “consolidation” programme of the Garda station network which has been widely criticised, especially in rural communities.
The majority of 34 gardaí currently stationed at Stepaside are due to be transferred to Dundrum more than 5km away, while some other will move to Blackrock.
In a statement, Mr Shatter said the objective of the station closures was to enhance the effectiveness of the force through increasing Garda visibility and patrol hours.”
The closure would not result in a loss of gardaí in the Stepaside area, he said.
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