West Cavan Fianna Fáil Councillor John Paul Feeley reacted with horror to the confirmation by Fine Gael Justice Minister, Alan Shatter TD that a ‘decision on what Garda Stations will be closed will be announced in the coming weeks.’
‘Yesterday (Wednesday 23rd November ) at a cross-border Policing Conference on organised crime, the Minister for Justice confirmed that a decision to close Garda Stations will be announced in the near future. That any Garda Station will be closed is completely unacceptable and the Minister must reverse this decision. In my own Electoral Area, Dowra, Bawnboy and Killeshandra have been earmarked for closure. This is a huge kick in the teeth to these communities and to the wider erea when three of the seven stations in the Belturbet Area face closure under the Fine Gael/Labour Government proposals.’
Councillor Feeley has put this issue on the Agenda for Cavan County Council and this motion is schedule to be dealt with at the December meeting.
‘The fact that a Council Motion put on the agenda over two months ago has not yet been discussed indicated an ineffectiveness of local democracy. I have however, through Brendan Smith TD had this proposal raised in the Dáil and Senator Diarmuid Wilson in Seanad Eireann. In both Chambers the Minister gave glib answers stating that all expenditure was under review. Of course the salaries of the Gardai relocated would still have to be paid. The cost to run these stations is minimal. There is no saving to be made. This is simply an anti-rural proposal.’
Referring to the McCarthy Report the West Cavan Councillor noted that the last Government had commissioned that report to provide options of where cost cutting could be made. The then Tánaiste, Mary Coughlin pointed out that many of the proposals in that report ‘made no sense,’ the closure of small rural Garda Stations was one such proposal.
‘The last Government demonstrated their commitment to local Garda Stations, many of them, including those earmarked for closure benefited from upgrading work which was much needed and welcomed by the Gardai and local people.’
‘At a time when people are growing more fearful of crime, when more of a Garda presence is needed not less, the idea that local Garda management would nominate local stations for closure is very disappointing. Once a station is closed that service is gone forever. This must not be allowed to happen. There is no saving to be made. It is an excuse for centralisation. At this late stage, I am calling on our Fine Gael representatives in Dáil Eireann and our thirteen local Fine Gael Councillors to do their job, speak up for County Cavan and communities such as Dowra, Bawnboy and Killeshandra. If they fail to keep these stations open they are showing very clearly that they are completely ineffective representatives for the people of this County.’