Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (556)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

556. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in view of the statement by the General Secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors that criminals have told the Garda that they are now targeting rural areas because there is no chance of meeting a garda, if he will re-consider his recent decision to close down Garda stations and re-open them without delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8362/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Commissioner's Policing Plan for 2013, which I laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas on 5th December 2012, sets out details of the closure of 100 Garda stations throughout the country. 95 of these stations closed on 31 January and the remaining five will close in the coming months. I fully agree with the Commissioner's recommendations and there are no plans to change these decisions.

The Garda Commissioner has stated that the revised structures will continue to support the Garda community policing philosophy through the clustering of services at policing hubs. This centralisation of services will facilitate the introduction of enhanced patrolling arrangements which, in turn, will provide increased Garda visibility as well as maintaining existing Garda links with communities throughout the country. The objective will be to ensure that the best possible policing service will continue to be provided to our communities. The Garda Commissioner has also advised that closure of stations will result in some additional 61,000 patrolling hours being available for operational policing.