Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Defence Dara Calleary TD has criticised Minister for Justice Alan Shatter’s inability to confirm the running costs of the garda stations he is planning to shut down.
In reply to Parliamentary Questions from Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Dara Calleary, Minister Shatter said the costs are maintained at a district level, so he does not know how much it costs the State to run each individual station.
In the last budget it was announced that four Mayo garda stations in Mulranny, Tourmakeady, Glenisland, Bellacorick were to close in 2012 as part of cutbacks, and there was much surprise in particular in relation to Mulranny with thousands of additional tourists now visiting the area as a result of the Greenway.
Deputy Calleary continued, “Minister Shatter has attempted to justify his plans to shut down a number of garda stations across the country? How did Minister Shatter decide which garda stations to shut down as part of his ‘cost savings’ exercise, if he doesn’t know how much each station costs to run?”
The Ballina native continued, “While I appreciate the need to bring costs under control, Fianna Fáil has said all along that the savings from shutting down rural garda stations are minimal. Minister Shatter has now admitted that he is unable to contradict me on this. How can he justify closing a particular garda station if he cannot explain the simple maths involved?
Deputy Calleary said that he believed removing a local garda station from a community will have significant long-term social and economic consequences, and rural communities will be more isolated and more vulnerable without a station nearby.
Independent Mulranny based Cllr Michael Holmes agreed that it was somewhat surprising that Minister Shatter was not able to relay the relevant figures and stated, “The fact that he wasn’t able to give a breakdown of these figures show that this plan wasn’t well thought out. You would have thought that those figures would be ready to roll off his tongue.
Cllr Holmes added, The fact that he wasn’t able to name the figures shows that there really isn’t any savings to be made and it adds to the argument that the closures of these garda stations are not justified.”
On January 12 last a second public meeting about the proposed closure of Mulranny Garda station and it was attended by a large crowd of local people and representatives Deputy Dara Calleary, and local Count Councillors Rose Conway Walsh, Michael Holmes, Michael McNamara and Gerry Coyle.
The meeting was organised by Mulranny Community Futures and chaired by Michael Hughes, who outlined the progress to date and the responses received from the various representations made.