“HAVING a Garda station is one thing, but having Gardaí to be in that Garda station is another.”
That was the response from Superintendent Andrew Lacey of Roxboro Road Garda Station to calls for a Garda station in Castletroy at a recent special meeting on anti-social behaviour in County Hall.
Fianna Fáil councillor Joe Pond has repeatedly called for the provision of a 24/7 Garda station to cover the Castletroy, Monaleen, and Annacotty area.
The City East representative had a motion before the Council earlier this year calling for the local authority to write to the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner on the matter.
“We have an issue of anti-social behaviour in an area with a population of 25,000. That’s a huge amount of people,” Cllr Pond hit out.
Together with Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea, Cllr Pond has organised meetings between a number of resident associations in the Annacotty and Castletroy areas and Gardaí from Castleconnell about the issue, and have prepared a petition with more than 2,000 signatures for a Garda station in the area.
“The need for a Garda station in Castletroy is one of the most significant issues raised by the local residents. Senior Gardaí have told me that the provision of a Garda station is under serious consideration, as a business case has been made for a new Garda station in Castletroy and it is with the Garda Commissioner for a decision,” Deputy O’Dea said to the Limerick Post on the issue.
Replying to Cllr Pond on the matter in the Dooradoyle council chamber last week, Supt Lacey explained that Garda resources are at the crux of everything.
“Having a Garda station is one thing, but having Gardaí to be in that Garda station is another thing. I am responsible for that side of the city and if I have a Garda station there then I need to be able to staff it and I need to put Gardaí in to operate it,” Supt Lacey told council members.
“We have a state-of-the-art custody suite in Henry Street, probably the best in the country, so in terms of a Garda station, I wouldn’t think there’s a need for that.
“Maybe just the need for something like a Garda office or some type of visibility so that people in those communities can have some place to go and meet a guard. But in terms of the actual station, as the person who is responsible for resources out there, I would rather five or six guards than a Garda station.
“At this point in time, it’s in the Capital Plan. I’ve sought an update on it but I know that’s at a national level, OPW level, in relation to the decision-making there.”
Supt Lacey brought a bit of realism to proceedings when he spoke of the day-to-day strains on Garda resources in the Limerick Division.
In terms of the wider Garda division, he said that they are now working with less resources to deal with a huge rise in population in Castletroy and Monaleen.
“From 2019, pre-Covid to now, in Limerick City North and Limerick City South, there has been a 30 per cent reduction in community policing offices.
“When you put the two of them together, you realise some of the strains on our members in relation to call volume.”
Supt Lacey said that the Limerick Division currently receives in the region of 100 service calls a day, and that calls in the last month alone had equated to more than 3,500.
“Limerick is recognised as a student city. In the next week or so we will see 34,000 students arrive across the city. So, when you add that rise to our existing population, we are in for a busy six to eight months,” he concluded.