Thomas Pringle TD has today challenged the government over speculation that more garda rural stations will be closed.
The question of further closures has been widely raised following the publishing of statistics this week on garda presence nationwide.
According to the Independent TD for Donegal South West, “The Garda Commissioner is expected to complete his list of recommended stations for closure any day now.”
Speaking on the matter today to the Taoiseach at Leaders’ Questions, he summarised the statistics.
“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.”
He warned that these figures “should not be used as a reason to close stations, but to reconsider the ban on new recruits”.
Deputy Pringle continued: “Counties like Donegal, Galway, Mayo and many others could face massive closures because of this”.
Thr reality, he continued, is that more gardaí, not less, are needed on the ground.
“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.
“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.”
He challenged the the government: “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?”