A GARDA representative has slated the closure of four stations in the district stating that they were instrumental with a number of crime and drug detections while a local politican is calling on people to send out a clear message calling for the decision to be reversed.
Garda Ger Comerford, who is the Central Executive Committee member of the Garda Representative Association representing all rank and file Gardai in the Kilkenny Carlow Division expressed his disappointment at the closure of Johnstown, Inistioge, Ballyragget and Leighlinbridge.
“This announcement came with a fanfare that this course of action provided cost saving and increased service delivery to the citizens and tax payers of Ireland. I totally disagree with this argument,” he said adding that ‘no alternative has been offered as to what will be the future model for policing rural Ireland’.
“Two of there stations have sections of motorway running through their areas while others have had success within the last 12 months with considerable drugs and crime detections,” he added. He also stated that all stations have a Garda member attached with Leighlinbridge having two members attached and one living adjacent to it. He also pointed out that Inistioge had a member appointed there within the last 12 months and living in that area .
Under the plans a garda will be transferred from Ballyragget to Castlecomer while a garda and a sergeant stationed at Johnstown will transfer to Urlingford. Cllr Mary Hilda Kavanagh (FG) said she was ‘very disappointed’ to hear about the closures. “My own feeling is that these closures will diminish people’s sense of security. I hope that the alternative of patrol cars touring the countryside will help to alleviate people’s fears. It is very disappointing to hear of the station closing in Johnstown. I would be looking for extra patrol cars especially in the hours of darkness,” she said.
Meanwhile Cllr Maurice Shortall called on the decision to close Ballyragget to be reversed. “It’s totally irresponsible to close garda stations that are manned while others presently lying idle remain open. I question was the decision crime proofed and why was the closure imposed on probably the second largest populated town in North Kilkenny. Garda Ray Doyle has been doing a fantastic job in the town and has built up a positive working relationship in the community by virtue of his visible presence on the beat.
“Closing the station is once again penny wise but pound foolish and the paltry savings will pave into insignificance when the inevitable consequences occur. There is no substitution for Garda presence and the hit and miss effect of a mobile patrol car will be music to the ears of those involved in anti social behaviour and crime. Its time for the community in Ballyragget to call halt and to send out a clear message to Dublin 4 this decision is wrong, and we wont stand for it,” he added.