Mayo Garda Division to merge with Longford and Roscommon
THE Mayo representative of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has expressed concerns that there will not be enough resources to police the new garda division covering counties Mayo, Roscommon and Longford.
As part of the reforms announced by the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, the number of Garda divisions in the country will be reduced from 28 to 19, with the current Mayo Garda Division to amalgamate with the Roscommon/Longford Division.
The amalgamation of the two divisions will result in one of the largest divisions in the country, and the GRA representative in Mayo, Ronan O’Grady says his organisation has issues over how it will be policed.
“We have concerns over the size of the new division and that geographically it will be too big. It will be taking in two provinces and will be 220km long in parts,” he told The Mayo News.
“We have not had a chance to discuss [the reform changes], but the initial concern is that it will be too big and that the frontline resources would not be available to police it. In Mayo we have not got new gardaí out of Templemore for 18 months. There would be issues with the size of the new division and the resources that would be available,” O’Grady said, adding that the GRA had yet to be told where the Chief Superintendent for the new division would be based.
The Newport-based garda, who is a member of the GRA Central Executive Committee, said that the committee will meet to discuss the reforms in September. He added that the committee members were disappointed that there was no consultation with the GRA before the reforms were announced, but they welcomed Commissioner Harris’s indication that he is open to considering feedback from the association.
The reforms will be debated at the next County Mayo Joint Policing Committee meeting on September 6.
Moving deck chairs
Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary also expressed concern about ‘wholesale changes’ to the Garda division in Mayo.
“I have concerns that the merging of our Garda Division will see resources stretched too far. Under the new Division boundary, we a looking at an area of over 200km driving from Achill to east Longford. I have fears services will be stretched too far to cope with the size of the Division.
“County Mayo has its own unique policing requirements. It is the third biggest county in the country. Most of our county is rural. It requires a robust and mobile police force. I believe merging with Roscommon-Longford will only dilute services in Mayo, and this should not be permitted,” he said, while calling for extra garda resources for the region.
Senator Rose Conway-Walsh said the changes to the garda division fail to address the issue of garda resources for Mayo.
“I am concerned that changes to the divisional structure may see the end of divisional headquarters in Castlebar. It is vital that there is Garda leadership infrastructure based in Mayo, able to respond to the unique concerns of policing such a large county,” she said.
“We cannot allow policing to be further downgraded in Mayo, all in the name of saving money at a State level. Like so many other basic services, Mayo is starting out from a disadvantage and this must be factored in when any final decision is taken around this plan. Moving the deck chairs must not be a substitute for proper Garda resources in Mayo.”