JUSTICE Minister Helen McEntee has been asked to reopen the regional Garda Station in Newcastle West as part of an overall strategy to integrate Gardaí into local communities in a way that is visible to the public.
The call came from County Limerick Independent TD Richard O’Donoghue during a Dáil debate last week when he said that
“We were given a promise when the old station closed down in Newcastle West, with a population of 8,000 people in that area alone, but we have no headquarters now. These are now in two houses in Askeaton, where a Garda station has been operated from there. They do fantastic work there and, yes, the members are upskilling through the internet and so forth, but they need a headquarters.
“We need a place where Gardaí can have a proper headquarters in order that the appropriate infrastructure is put in place,” Deputy O’Donoghue said.
“I do not have a problem with what the gardaí are doing but have a problem with the infrastructure that is there to support An Garda Síochána. I would greatly appreciate anything that the Minister can do to help us get our Garda station back in Newcastle West,” he added.
Minister McEntee assured Deputy O’Donoghue that she is committed to ensuring there is strong, visible policing throughout the country. The budget provided by Government to the Garda this year, she said, is the largest to date, with an allocation of more than €2 billion for 2022.
The Rural Ireland Independent TD told the Minister he believes more gardaí are needed on the ground in County Limerick.
“In order to get extra people on the ground, we need to tackle the issue where, if a garda is on a shift and if there is an arrest, for example, for antisocial behaviour, a car accident or whatever it is he or she has to do, approximately three hours of that Garda’s day then turns into paperwork,” he explained.
“Those three hours are spent behind doors where he or she is not visible. To counteract that we need more gardaí on the ground. I understand that more people are being trained up and deployed but we need to ensure that they are covered in the towns, villages and rural areas around the county and not per head of population, as within the larger cities. This is because when Gardaí are in a local area in a county, they have to travel up to 40 square miles to cover areas themselves and there may be only four or five Gardaí on duty, if one is sick or engaged in paperwork.”
Deputy O’Donoghue then called for extra Gardaí and for their number to be doubled in stations around County Limerick. This, he said, would ensure a police presence at all times.
“Especially where people are sick or are otherwise engaged with paperwork behind a desk, after having completed their investigations during the day.”
The Minister agreed that Gardaí need to be protected to ensure that when they go about their business and actively put themselves in harm’s way to protect us, they need to be supported.