I wish to raise the issue of the strength of the Garda force in Rathcoole Garda station. I take it the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, will be responding. I do not mean to sound unkind, but I am disappointed that the Minister, Deputy Flanagan, is not here. I have exhausted other avenues to try to get to the bottom of this issue, through parliamentary questions and so forth. I hope I will not just get the standard reply today telling me that Garda recruitment closed in 2010 and was subsequently reopened, that the Garda force is now at 13,500 or 14,000 and so on. That does not address the particular issue I am concerned about.
As the Minister of State knows well, Rathcoole is near the county boundary of Dublin on the N7. It was traditionally a country village and the Garda station served not just the village of Rathcoole but the hinterland also. For people in Clondalkin like myself, when we were growing up Rathcoole was a common enough place to visit. We would have known our way around it very well and we had friends in Rathcoole who came to school in Clondalkin. Rathcoole has changed significantly since then and its population has grown very dramatically. It continues to grow.
The Garda station in Rathcoole does not just service Rathcoole but also Saggart, Newcastle and Citywest. While they are big areas with a growing population, they also have attractions and features that bring a lot of people into the area. We have the hotel and conference centre in Citywest, the industrial estate at Greenogue, and the business park and industrial estate at Citywest itself. There is a lot of activity in the area in addition to the population.
Just a few years ago, the strength of the Garda force in Rathcoole was 23. Today, according to the reply to my most recent parliamentary question on the matter, the number is 14. It is out of line with everywhere else and there is no explanation. The Minister of State is going to give me the stock answer about recruitment and all that. I cannot understand why we have this decline when the population and economic activity in this hinterland is growing significantly. In 2014 there were 89 gardaí in Clondalkin and today there are 92. In Lucan there were 74 in 2014 and today there are 70. In Ronanstown there were 91 in 2014 and today there are 88. In Rathcoole, however, in 2014 there were 23 gardaí and today there are 14. That is a really significant drop.
This drop means that each Garda unit is a unit of two or three at most. Nobody has cover for holidays or sick leave. It is not physically possible to police the area adequately with that number of gardaí. This drop in numbers for Rathcoole is so obvious and the needs of the community and hinterland are not being addressed. Housing construction under way and in planning is very vibrant at the moment in Citywest, Saggart, Rathcoole and Newcastle. The Department of Education and Skills is opening a new second level college in Citywest within two years. The population and economic needs are there. I have asked many parliamentary questions and I am sorry for the Minister of State because I know he is going to read out the stock answer. I really wanted the Minister, Deputy Flanagan, to address what is going on and why this region is being denied the level of policing it had before in line with other parts of my constituency.