Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Questions (15)

Dara Calleary

Question:

71Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will outline on a county basis the number and name of each additional garda station that will close or will have its opening hours restricted during 2012, 2013 or 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6551/12]

View answer

Oral answers (4 contributions) (Question to Minister for Justice and Equality)

The names of the Garda stations which are scheduled to close in 2012 have been provided to the House in the policing plan for An Garda Síochána which I lodged with the House last December. For ease of reference for the Deputy I am circulating with this answer a table containing the names of those stations together with the names of the stations which will have reduced opening hours. This is information that has previously been published and circulated.

In relation to closures in future years, the position is as set out in the Garda Síochána Act 2005. Under the Act, the Garda Commissioner must submit to me, by the end of October of each year, a draft policing plan for the following year. That plan must contain, among other items, any proposals the Commissioner has for the closure of Garda stations or for amending district or divisional boundaries. The Deputy will appreciate, therefore, that I cannot comment on the likely contents of policing plans for the years 2013 and 2014 as they have not yet been drafted. However, I have stated that I expect it is likely that the plan will include provision for some further closures.

Table A: Garda stations proposed for closure

Region

Division

District

Station

Western Region

Clare

Kilrush

Carrigaholt

Western Region

Galway

Galway

Corrandulla

Western Region

Mayo

Beal an Mhuirthead

Bellacorick

Western Region

Mayo

Castlebar

Glenisland

Western Region

Mayo

Castlebar

Tourmakeady

Western Region

Mayo

Westport

Mulranny

Western Region

Ross/Long

Castlerea

Loughglynn

Western Region

Ross/Long

Boyle

Tarmonbarry*

Western Region

Ross/Long

Boyle

Cootehall

Southern Region

Limerick

Askeaton

Shanagolden

Southern Region

Limerick

Bruff

Doon

Southern Region

Cork North

Cobh

Glenville

Southern Region

Cork West

Clonakilty

Castletownsend*

Southern Region

Cork West

Clonakilty

Ballygurteen*

Southern Region

Cork West

Kanturk

Knocknagree

Southern Region

Cork West

Bandon

Ballyfeard

Southern Region

Cork West

Bantry

Goleen

Southern Region

Cork West

Macroom

Inchigeela

South East Region

Tipperary

Thurles

Ballinure*

South East Region

Tipperary

Menagh

Ballinderry*

South East Region

Wexford

New Ross

Ballywilliam*

South East Region

Wexford

Wexford

Baldwinstown

Southern Region

Kerry

Listowel

Ballylongford

Southern Region

Kerry

Listowel

Moyvane

Southern Region

Kerry

Tralee

Clochan

Northern Region

Cav/Mon

Monaghan

Clonibret

Northern Region

Cav/Mon

Monaghan

Smithborough

Northern Region

Cav/Mon

Baileboro

Tullyvin

Northern Region

Donegal

Glenties

An Duchoraidh (Doochary)*

Northern Region

Donegal

Bally shannon

Dunkineely

Northern Region

Donegal

Buncrana

Culdaff

Northern Region

Sligo/Leitrim

Ballymote

Bunnanadden

Northern Region

Sligo/Leitrim

Manorhamilton

Drumkeeran

Northern Region

Sligo/Leitrim

Manorhamilton

Kiltyclogher

Eastern Region

Laois/Offaly

Tullamore

Geashill*

Dublin Metropolitan Region

DMR South Central

Pearse St

Harcourt Terrace

Dublin Metropolitan Region

DMR North

Ballymun

Whitehall

Dublin Metropolitan Region

DMR North

Balbriggan

Rush

Dublin Metropolitan Region

DMR East

Dun Laoghaire

Dalkey

* Non-operational

Table A lists four Garda stations located within the Dublin metropolitan region and 35 stations located outside the Dublin metropolitan region identified which are scheduled to close this year.

Table B: DMR stations identified for reduced opening hours

Division

District

Stations

DMR East

Blackrock

Stepaside

DMR East

Dun Laoghaire

Cabinteely

DMR East

Dun Laoghaire

Kill O Grange

DMR South

Crumlin

Sundrive

DMR South

Terenure

Terenure

DMR West

Blanchardstown

Cabra

DMR North

Coolock

Malahide

DMR North

Ballymun

Santry

DMR North

Raheny

Howth

DMR South Central

Donnybrook

Donnybrook

Table B lists the ten Garda stations identified within the Dublin metropolitan region which will have their public opening hours reduced in 2012 from a 24 hours service to being open between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. only.

Does the Minister take independent advice apart from that given by the Garda Commissioner when he recommends station closures? Does he take advice from people in his party who are local representatives or from local community organisations? One of the stations that will be closed is Mulranny Garda station in my constituency of County Mayo, which is also the Taoiseach's constituency. It is a small village but the opening of the Great Western Greenway will put some 50,000 people per year through the village. The Garda Commissioner, however, with the Minister's approval, has closed the Garda station. With this extra volume of people - I hope there will be many more - concern is being expressed in the community about the loss of the Garda station which is now open for two hours a day. This does not make sense to the people of Mulranny. One might have made an argument for the closure of the station three years ago, before the Great Western Greenway was developed, but not now. The same could apply all over the country. Does the Minister take independent soundings before he brings the argument in favour of closing Garda stations to the Cabinet?

This is a management issue for the Garda Commissioner. It is something that can be the subject of a conversation between us, but the Garda Commissioner has a statutory function in this regard. It would not be appropriate, therefore, for the Minister to designate or identify particular stations for closure.

The Deputy has made the case for closure. He is talking about a Garda station that is only open for two hours a day. Many police stations are in place for historical reasons; there was no overall policing strategy. They were built before all the modern systems of technology became available and before we had internal Garda communications systems or mobile phones. They date back to a time when there were not many cars on the road. If we are to provide an effective policing service, we must do it using modern technology and communications systems.

It is difficult to argue that a Garda station that is open for only two hours a day plays a major security role for any local community. What is important is that the local gardaí in the overall district know the areas of difficulty and are able to respond when an incident occurs or to prevent one occurring.

The Minister does not get it. He does not understand this is not just a security issue. He is living in Dublin. Any Dublin Deputy will not understand that more than security is at stake. In a village to which 50,000 people are brought every year there may be a greater need for security, although we hope not.

Extra information is available with which the Minister should be provided by the Commissioner independently. I accept that the Minister does not wish to involve himself in a management decision. However, he should consider independent views.