Former Garda stations have been converted into everything from a tourist centre, an ambulance base, and the offices of the State pathologist.
While 43 former Garda stations have been sold off in recent years, a total of 10 properties across the country have been re-purposed by the State and are back in use, while a further nine have been licenced to community groups.
One of the first stations to shut was Barracks St in Cork, which closed its doors in 2013 after 400 years of police and military police history. However, since then the Elizabeth Fort has opened to the public as a tourist attraction and the historic Barracks St fort welcomed 61,815 visitors last year.
In Dublin, a former Garda station in Whitehall has been converted into offices for the State pathologist and the Dublin City coroner while a 700-pupil primary school is planned for the Harcourt Terrace offices in the city centre.
On Kerry’s Valentia Island, the old Garda station has been taken over by the Irish Coast Guard and the National Parks and Wildlife Service now uses the closed-down station in Ballylongford, Co Kerry. A former station in Loughglynn, Co Roscommon, has been transferred from the gardaí and is now used as a HSE ambulance base.
Social Democrat Catherine Murphy, who received the information through a parliamentary question, claimed there is a lack of openness and transparency around the sale of former Garda stations.
“Transparency around selling-off and reopening stations was the subject of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meetings back in 2017. We even had the then acting Garda commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin apologise to the PAC for misleading it over the release of a report into the controversial reopening of Stepaside Garda Station,” she said.
“In view of that, it is not out of bounds to place scrutiny on these sales and others in the hands of OPW estates management.”
The OPW said that when disposing of State properties, it first sees if it can be used by Government departments or the wider public sector.
“If there is no other State use identified for a property, the OPW will then consider disposing of the property on the open market if and when conditions prevail, in order to generate revenue for the Exchequer.”
The spokesman said the OPW uses an auctioneer or estate agent to sell properties but on occasion and on the advice of the auctioneer or estate agent contracted, some are sold by private treaty.
“The market value of these properties is determined by the auctioneer/estate agent.”