The Deputy will appreciate that the Garda Commissioner is primarily responsible for the effective and efficient use of the resources available to An Garda Síochána, including responsibility for the formulation of proposals in relation to the opening and closing of Garda stations, taking into account crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure that the best possible use is made of these resources. Further, the programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works, which has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda estate currently includes 569 Garda Stations. I am further informed that there are no plans to close any of these stations at present.
Under the Garda Station Rationalisation Programme of 2012 and 2013, one hundred and thirty-nine (139) Garda Stations were closed nationwide.
This included Kilmihil Garda Station, Clare which was closed on the 31 January 2013 as part of the Garda Station Rationalisation Programme 2013. However, following a further review of stations in the Clare Division, Kilmihil Garda Station reopened on 2 March 2015 and Lissycasey Garda Station was closed in its place.
The Programme for Government 2016 contained a commitment to reopen six Garda Stations on a pilot basis. This Programme committed the Government to “launch a pilot scheme to reopen 6 Garda Stations both urban and rural to determine possible positive impacts that such openings will have on criminal activity, with special emphasis on burglaries, theft and public order”.
A report was prepared by Assistant Commissioner Special Crime Operations and accepted by the Commissioner, which identified Rush Garda Station, Co. Dublin; Stepaside Garda Station, Co. Dublin; Bawnboy Garda Station, Co. Cavan; Donard Garda Station, Co. Wicklow; Leighlinbridge Garda Station, Co. Carlow; and Ballinspittle Garda Station, Co. Cork as the six stations to be reopened under the Pilot Programme.
To date, An Garda Síochána in conjunction with the OPW has successfully completed the refurbishment of four of the six Garda Stations to be reopened under the Pilot Programme, i.e. Donard Garda Station, Co. Wicklow; Ballinspittle Garda Station, Co. Cork; Stepaside Garda Station, Co. Dublin; and Rush Garda Station, Co. Dublin.
There are two Garda Stations remaining which will require refurbishment in order to enable them to reopen as part of the Pilot Programme; Bawnboy, Co. Cavan and Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow.
As the deliberative process between An Garda Síochána and the OPW to develop proposals for the reopening of Leighlinbridge and Bawnboy Garda Stations is on-going, it is not possible to provide a timeline for the reopening of both stations until the detailed and definitive design is agreed and a fully costed estimate is determined.