New figures show that 43 garda stations were operating without a dedicated garda assigned to them at the end of 2017 — almost 8% of the country’s network of more than 560 stations.
Eight stations lost their permanent garda last year: Rosscarbery, Co Cork; Ballintra and Ramelton, Co Donegal; Ballycroy, Co Mayo; Kilconnell and Rosmuc, Co Galway; Kilmacow, Co Kilkenny; and Toomevara, Co Tipperary.
While all stations remain “open”, they are policed by gardaí from neighbouring stations.
Overall, there are eight “ghost” stations in Tipperary, six each in Waterford and Galway, four each in Kilkenny and Donegal, and one in nine other counties.
While garda management has experienced difficulty in recent years in finding replacement gardaí to serve in one-garda stations, the trend wasn’t all in one direction as five stations were assigned a new dedicated garda last year: Ballynoe and Boherbue in Co Cork; Bansha, Co Tipperary; Campile, Co Wexford, and Shercock, Co Cavan.
Official garda figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show a total of 25 stations have not had their own permanent garda for at least the past five years. In addition, 149 stations around the country are vulnerable to losing their permanent garda, as only one member of the force is currently assigned to them.
A breakdown of the figures shows that 90 garda stations experienced a reduction in staffing levels last year, including Mayfield in Cork, which is down from 51 to 42, with a similar reduction observed at Mayorstone Park in Limerick, down from 68 to 59.
Commenting on garda staffing levels last week, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the Garda Commissioner was responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel.
Gardaí said they use a distribution model for deployment of members which take account of all relevant factors including population, crime trends, and policing needs of each of the country’s 28 garda divisions.