A Garda staff association has expressed serious concern at how the force in Cork City is going to cope after it was left with just one 24-hour station for the whole city.
Six 24-hour stations in the city are to close under radical plans announced on budget day, including three busy district headquarters: Gurranabraher, Togher, and Mayfield.
It leaves Anglesea Station as the only station open day and night for the entire city.
The cutback is in addition to the closure of four stations in the city out of a total of 100 stations being shut across the country.
“I am concerned we won’t be in a position to properly deal with issues and calls as we will only have one station open after 9pm,” said Willie Gleeson, president of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.
“I am particularly concerned at the number of stations with reduced opening hours, three of those, Togher, Mayfield, and Gurranabraher, are very, very busy district headquarters. I would call on the minister and the Garda Commissioner, even at this late stage, to properly consult with staff associations and the community in those areas as to how they will be policed.”
The other three city stations with reduced hours are Bridewell, Watercourse Road, and Glanmire.
Figures for the numbers of recorded crime in each station in 2011 show there were 2,957 in Anglesea Station. Gurranabraher had the second highest number of crimes, with 1,539.
Togher and Mayfield also recorded fairly high figures, 764 and 738 respectively.
The Bridewell Station is the third busiest station in the city with 1,318 recorded crimes in 2011.
In addition, four stations in Cork City are being shut completely: Barrack St, Mallow Road, Rathduff, and MacCurtain St — as well as three in West Cork: Ballinspittle, Adrigole, and Meelin.
Cork City Fianna Fáil councillor, Kenneth O’Flynn, said: “Six Garda stations have their opening hours radically reduced. Unfortunately this means that vulnerable people in these areas will not have a Garda station open after 9pm ... There is very little peace of mind for those who stay awake fearful that they will again be on the end of antisocial behaviour.”
Michael Collins of the West Cork Rural Garda Station Retention Campaign said the three closures were in addition to the six earlier this year.
“We’re desperately disappointed three more stations have been identified by Minister for Justice for closure in West Cork.
“It will leave more people vulnerable and will later have an effect on the youth who will not have the guidance that was there with a local garda. You can’t close rural stations and expect those communities to continue as normal and having a clinic for one or two hours a week will not replace a local community garda working from the local station and living in the community.”
In Kerry, community activists protested at the closure of nine stations: Ballinskelligs, Valentia Island, Beaufort, Kilgarvan, Lauragh, Brosna, Abbey-dorney, Camp, and Fenit — leaving some areas without a police presence for the first time since the 19th century.
Anthony O’Connell, of Valentia, recalled the 1950s when the island had a sergeant and three gardaí and said the island station had been “effectively closed’’ for years.
However, the formal closure now marked a further diminution of essential services. Mr O’Connell said Valentia was 15 miles away from the district Garda HQ in Caherciveen, which also serviced Ballinskelligs.
Independent county councillor, Danny Healy- Rae, protested at the closure of the station in his native Kilgarvan.
‘’The stations that are now being closed were all put there for strategic reasons and offered a sense of security to people, especially the elderly and those living alone,’’ he said.
Mr Gleeson said the 100 station closures and cutbacks in opening hours came at a time when “Garda resources are already stretched”.
“Garda numbers are reducing and we are operating with an inadequate Garda fleet. Our members are seriously concerned about rural Ireland and the impact such consolidation will have on communities.
“The strength of the local Garda station and its members are such that rural crime has fallen in recent years. This move will take the heart out of many rural communities and ultimately people will suffer.”
Cork stations closing: nBarrack Street: 925 recorded crimes in 2011; four sergeants and 13 gardaí based there; nearest station 1km away;
* MacCurtain Street: 896 recorded crimes in 2011; no gardaí based there; nearest station 2km;
* Mallow Road: 395 recorded crimes; two sergeants, four gardaí; nearest station 4km;
* Rathduff: 56 recorded crimes; 2 gardaí; 19km;
* Ballinspittle: 51 recorded crimes; one garda; 16km;
* Adrigole: four recorded crimes; one garda; 16km;
* Meelin; no recorded crimes; no garda, 8km.
24-hour stations in Cork cutting opening hours:
* Gurranabraher: Open 7am to 9pm daily;
* Bridewell: Open 7am to 9pm daily;
* Togher: Open 7am to 9pm daily;
* Mayfield: Open 7am to 9pm daily;
* Watercourse Road: Open Monday to Saturday noon-9pm;
* Togher: Open 7am-9pm daily.
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