In response to claims yesterday that Donegal Town garda station would be downgraded if the hours the station remained open were reduced, An Garda Síochána say analysis of the number of callers to the station show there are "very few callers" during off peak hours.
Yesterday Deputy Pearse Doherty heavily criticised proposals he says are currently being considered by Garda Management to significantly reduce the opening hours of Donegal Town Garda Station.
Deputy Doherty said his information suggests that under the plans the station would no longer open to the public on a twenty four hour basis, and would instead only be open from 10am to 2pm and from 8pm to 10pm Monday to Saturday, and from 10am to 1pm on Sundays: “These plans being considered by An Garda Síochána to reduce station opening times at Donegal Town Garda Station will have a serious impact on policing services and crimes levels in the south of the county.
“It’s understood that the Superintendent intends to amend the station’s opening hours meaning that it would only be open to the public from 10am to 2pm and from 8pm to 10pm Monday to Saturday, while on Sundays the station would only be open from 10am to 1pm.
“Clearly this is a considerable reduction in the number of hours that the station would be open to the public each week, and it would be foolish to believe that such a drastic cut back would not have a significant impact on crime levels in the town and indeed on neighbouring communities if implemented.
“The plan would result in the effective downgrading of Donegal Town Garda Station and would result, in my view, in a poorer policing service being provided to the public."
However, An Garda Síochána , through their Press Office has responded. The first line of the statement says An Garda Síochana does not comment on remarks by third parties - a reference to Deputy Doherty's comments reported here yesterday.
The Garda statement adds: "An Garda Síochána is of the view that the community in Donegal Town would be better served by the increased patrolling, including beat patrols, which would be delivered if the Garda member who would normally be on station duty were out patrolling during off peak hours."
The statement in full is as follows:
"At present, Donegal Town Garda station is open on a 24-hour basis. In addition, a Garda patrol and response service is delivered from Donegal Town on a 24-hour basis. However, from analysis of callers to the station, particularly during night time hours, it is apparent that there are very few callers to the Garda station during off peak hours. An Garda Síochána is of the view that the community in Donegal Town would be better served by the increased patrolling, including beat patrols, which would be delivered if the Garda member who would normally be on station duty were out patrolling during off peak hours.
"The Garda commitment to the policing of Donegal Town is apparent by the significant refurbishment of Donegal Town Garda Station, which it is hoped will commence before the Summer. Furthermore, there are no plans to reduce the number of Garda members in Donegal Town. Indeed, despite recent retirements, the number of Gardai in Donegal Town and surrounding areas has been maintained in recent years.
"An Garda Síochána wish to emphasize that there is no downgrading in patrolling or Garda response in Donegal Town. We further wish to emphasize that no decision has been made yet. The matter was circulated to the Donegal Joint Policing Committee for further discussion and it remains in the consultation stage.”