THE new Garda Commissioner is to visit Mayo this Friday where he is due to outlinehow the new Garda Operating Model will work to members of the Mayo Joint Policing Committee (JPC).
Commissioner Drew Harris accepted an invitation by the Mayo JPC to address them and discuss the new garda organisational plan which will see Mayo join with Roscommon and Longford to create a new garda division.
The headquarters of the new garda division will remain in Castlebar Garda Station but there are reservations that the division will geographically be too large to police.
Westport-based Independent councillor Christy Hyland, a former garda and a member of the JPC, said he welcomed the fact that the Commissioner will address them and give a update on the new garda division.
“I look forward to meeting with the Commissioner and I hope to raise a number of serious issues with him regarding policing in the county. I reserve judgement on the new policing plan for the region but hope that it is not more centralisation because that will not work in policing. People need to be able to meet their gardaí whether they are in rural or urban communities.
“We need to get our gardaí back on the ground and among the people. It is my view that gardaí have lost touch with the people and the people have lost touch with the gardaí. It is not the fault of the local gardaí but it has come from management headquarters. Gardaí now seem to be flying around in cars or sitting at desks instead of being on the ground with the people they serve,” he said.
Cllr Hyland said he will also be raising the need for increased resources in the Mayo Drug Unit. He said the numbers at present in the unit are not big enough for a county the size of Mayo and described as ‘worrying’ the number of cannabis cultivation operations discovered in rural areas.
Commissioner Harris has been visiting different parts of the country in recent weeks to outline how the new policing plan will operate in new enlarged garda divisions. The Commissioner addressed the Tipperary JPC where he defended plans to merge the Clare and Tipperary garda divisions and move the headquarters to Ennis in Co Clare.