A very well-attended public meeting was held in Mulranny just before Christmas to discuss the proposed closure of the local Garda station. The meeting was attended by local Councillors Rose Conway-Walsh, Michael Holmes, Michael McNamara and Gerry Coyle and was chaired by Michael Hughes who outlined that Mulranny was one of four Garda stations earmarked for closure along with Glenisland, Bellacorick and Tourmakeady.
Mr Hughes read out a letter which had been sent to various ministers and Inspector Joe McKenna, by Mulranny Futures Group on behalf of the community. The letter highlighted the close relationship that has existed between the community in Mulranny and its local Garda. He went on to point out that Mulranny was a model of community policing and that the present member of An Garda Síochána Ronan O’Grady was an integral and active member of the community who supported local people through the good times and bad, is involved in the local football club and was a person in whom people could talk in confidence.
Mr Hughes told the meeting that a number of letters had also been sent to Inspector McKenna by other groups in the community including Community Alert, schools and Mulranny Tourism.
There was overwhelming support from all present to retain the station in Mulranny. Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh told the meeting she was shocked to hear of the proposed closure. She believed the only way the community could change the decision was to find out the criteria used to make the decision and the cost benefit of closing the station. She went on to say that Mulranny was unique and strategically located on Greenway and N59 and that the local businesses and the community must work together to keep the Garda Station. She said that the community which wants its station bad enough it will have it kept open.
Cllr Michael Holmes complimented the community on coming out in force on such a bad night. He said he believed the savings made by the closure would be minimal. The Garda will still have to be paid and the building maintained. He pointed out that the station is a deterrent and while there is low crime in the area, it can happen and cited the recent break in to a number of vehicles at Roonagh Pier as an example. He encouraged the community to meet with the Garda authorities to discuss the reasons for closing the station.
Cllr Michael McNamara advised the meeting that 31 stations are to close nationally, four in Mayo. He said the impact of closing the station would be huge and he felt the savings would be minimal.
Dr Jerry Cowley said that every community was made up of key components; the school, the post office, the doctor and the Garda. He said that services are being cut back and we are seeing the same in the health sector. He went on to say it made no sense to close the station, pointing out that Mulranny is home to a large elderly population at St Brendan’s Village and dispersed through the area and security in their own home was essential to their peace of mind.
Cllr Gerry Coyle told the meeting he had received many calls from concerned people, and he had conveyed these concerns to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister of State Michael Ring and Deputy Michelle Mulhern. He informed all present that each area Superintendent had been asked to make the cuts. He said that assessment by an Garda Síochána Western Division was based on three main criteria: the population of Mulranny was only 790; the area could be policed from Newport or Achill and that the impact on the area would be minimal.
Cllr Coyle went on to say that the country is in desperate situation and in reality we are not in control of our own finances. He told the meeting that he understood how the community felt and that he recognised that Mulranny was hard working and trying to do its best in the current circumstances. He advised the meeting that the Minister of State Michael Ring would meet with the group.
The decision of the meeting was to meet with Minister of State Ring and the Garda Chief Superintendent and advise them of the concerns of the community and to point out that the assessment does not appear to have taken account of the huge number of visitors to Mulranny.
Over 140,000 tourists have visited the village via the Greenway in 2011 (Mayo County Council figures) with a further 35,000 guests visiting the Mulranny Park Hotel Mulranny is in a strategic location at the crossroads to Achill and Belmullet.