Govt abandons Mayo communities that have lost garda stations

GardaThe Justice Minister has admitted that he has no idea what steps have been taken to address the security concerns of Mayo communities following the loss of their local garda station.

In reply to a Parliamentary Questions from Fianna Fáil, Minister Shatter said he doesn’t have any information about new community alert schemes or new garda clinics that may have been opened in Co Mayo or any part of the country following his widespread closure of community garda stations.

Mayo Fianna Fáil Deputy Dara Calleary has said this demonstrates Minister Shatter’s total lack of commitment to those communities in Co Mayo that lost their local garda station last year.

“It is disgraceful that the Justice Minister doesn’t even know what steps have been taken to maintain a garda presence in the communities that lost their local garda station.  This is the same Minister who shut down 6 garda stations in Mayo last year and stripped Swinford Garda Station of its district headquarters status while Mayo was experiencing a wave of burglaries and crime in the community,” said Deputy Calleary.

“During his campaign to shut down these 6 stations in Mayo and 100 local garda stations nationwide, the Minister casually dismissed the impact on communities. He said that the loss of the local station would be off-set by new community alert schemes and garda clinics in those areas.  He promised Mayo households and businesses that these initiatives would ensure that a strong garda presence would be maintained in their area.   What has happened to that promise?

“It seems that the Minister has just washed his hands of our communities in Co Mayo.  He isn’t even interested enough to follow up with the gardaí on the use of community alert schemes and garda clinics in their area.  Not only does he not know if these schemes are working as a replacement for garda stations, he doesn’t even know how many new schemes are up and running.

“New figures show that burglaries and assaults on older people have doubled in the past decade. Many people who live on their own are becoming increasingly fearful for their safety – particularly those in more isolated communities that have recently lost their local garda station.  I find it inconceivable that since his slash and burn of our local garda resources in Co Mayo, the Minister has been unable to keep track of the garda presence in those areas since then.  It is unbelievable that there is no information whatsoever about any new garda clinics or community alert schemes in these areas.

“The Minister’s casual attitude towards community safety vindicates the concerns of many people here in Mayo who worried that that the closure of local garda stations simply wasn’t thought through and was only about short-term savings.”