Government roll out multi-billion plan for North West then apparently go on to slash opening hours of Garda station in region

Donegal Town it’s feared would see access to garda station slashed to a few hours and less on Sunday.

Sligo News File.

After all the countryside has suffered from garda cutbacks and the closure of stations all over the place it would be expected the last thing we would now be hearing of is plans for the near demise of yet another garda operation. This time, the knives appear to be out for the station in Donegal town.

Marc MacSharry, TD,
Fianna Fail

Sligo TD Marc MacSharry has said reports point to moves where the town’s current excellent 24-hour service is to be sheared back to a few hours of part-time operation, leaving walk-in facilities at the station only open to the public between 10 am and 2 pm and 8 pm to 10pm Monday to Saturday and 10 am to 1 pm on Sundays.

Whose idea is it to pull this clearly unforgivable decision on the local people? Surely the community deserve to be sure that gardai will be immediately accessible if, or, more likely when, thugs decide to turn up and inflict injury on people and their property? They have been doing this for years with virtual impunity. No area is deemed safe
anymore. The elderly are terrified, the public, in general, is fearful of walking the street at night. Burglaries now are in many, many cases, not the criminal invasion of homes and businesses and the looting of goods alone but also a horrific scale of savagery inflicted on older and indeed other occupants or owners. People have been brutally
murdered.

However, it doesn’t look that the Government is paying much attention to the countrywide carnage.

Little more than a week or so ago, the Government motored into the North West to unveil a plan designed they claimed, to boost the State battered condition of the North West. Billions of euros were talked. Leading lights were seen to be alight with delight. Bags of money. New investment. New infrastructure. New roads – just reach out and Government would be there to guide early risers to presumably Darby’s magical pot of gold.

Now, soon after after the festival of giant-like promises, the story is of reports to effectively downgrade a garda station in Donegal – the very region supposed to benefit from the plan unfolded in a blaze of publicity. If the Government is already gearing up to make savings by cutting local garda services what does it say of the value of the much-hyped plan it wants people to believe is going to give the region a massive stimulus.

It is also worth mentioning that the story of 140 gardai, an assistant commissioner, superintendent and chief superintendent left to carry out their work from a waterless Sligo station, with no proper toilets – the building serves as the Garda headquarters for the region – continues to fester. Owing to the absence of cells, persons detained by gardai have to be transported for processing and detention to a station 15 miles away.

Branding the apparently planned minimalisation of the Garda service in Donegal as “absolutely ridiculous,” Deputy Mac Sharry said it was being proposed “especially at a time when there is anecdotal evidence that burglaries and robberies are on the increase.

“There are crime meetings taking place up and down the country hearing from people who are living in fear in their own communities. We all know that a strong Garda presence plays a huge part in deterring crime, yet here we have a proposal to reduce the opening hours at the Donegal town station.

“The station provides services to a substantial geographic area – including the Donegal Town Municipal area and a considerable area north and south of the town. There are extensive upgrade works planned for the station – worth in the region of €2m – and I understand that some of this work has already been put out to tender, while other mechanical and engineering cost considerations have been advanced.

“This proposed downgrade comes at a time when the government is pushing its Project Ireland 2040 plan. It’s less than two weeks since that strategy was launched, promising investment and infrastructure, and now we have a situation where a possible downgrade of an essential service is on the cards. This proposal clearly exposes the government’s plan to continue its relentless destruction of rural Ireland and it shows up Project Ireland 2040 and its targeted media campaign as nothing more than a
political stunt to use taxpayers’ money to promote Fine Gael and its candidates.”

Calling for “common sense to prevail,” MacSharry insisted that any reduction in opening times at Donegal town Garda Station must be shelved.” The Deputy has also made repeated Dail statements regarding the Garda station in Sligo.