Thomas Pringle TD has today strongly criticised the government over speculation of garda station closures following the publishing of statistics on garda presence nationwide.
Speaking on the matter today to the Taoiseach at Leaders’ Questions, the Independent TD for Donegal South-West stated: “Statistics published in recent days show low garda presence in numerous rural garda stations which you will no doubt use to justify the closure of stations across the rural landscape as part of the review of An Garda Síochána’s capacity to operate with reduced resources.
“Almost a third of all garda stations are staffed by just one garda, a further 88 stations have just two serving gardaí, while 40 stations are without any permanent garda assigned to duty. This should not be used as a reason to close stations, but to reconsider the ban on new recruits. Counties like Donegal, Galway, Mayo and many others could face massive closures because of this.
“As things stand, it can take a squad car from the nearest station up to two hours, if you’re lucky, to get to its destination – even in an emergency. I know of one incident in Donegal where a squad car had to travel 50 miles to a serious arson incident and there are numerous areas in Donegal that have been plagued by burglaries and vandalism where the criminals have no fear because they know they won’t be caught.
“It’s gotten to the stage where people are so frightened that some living on their own lock themselves in their bedroom at night and leave 50 euro on the kitchen table. That is no way to live and the fact that this is what’s going on before these proposed massive closures makes it all the more worrying.
“We have already seen the closure of nearly 40 stations this year, with it being reported that up to 80 stations could face closure by the end of the year. This isn’t efficient, this is dangerous.
“I understand that the Garda Commissioner is expected to complete his list of recommended stations for closure any day now on foot of these statistics, but what we need to know is what exactly is this government’s plan on tackling crime in rural areas and how exactly can you equate less stations and less gardaí with more efficiency?
“How many more closures will we see by the year’s end and how for many more years will we see these closures happening before the recruitment embargo is lifted by this government to ensure the safety of all citizens equally?”