"There was a Government U-turn on policing resources in the Sligo Leitrim area."
There was a Government U-turn on policing resources in the Sligo Leitrim area with the decision not to proceed with the construction of a new Garda Station in Sligo town and the fact that there is no Armed Response Unit located in the Sligo Leitrim area. This means if an Armed Response Unit is needed, it comes from Ballyshannon or Galway, depending on time and availability.
This was stated by Independent TD, Marian Harkin, when she challenged the Taoiseach, Micheal Martin on what she termed as “the unacceptable downgrading of policing in Sligo”.
Accusing those responsible, of a total U-turn she said that from a situation 18 months ago when the OPW had purchased a site for a new Garda station but then scrapped the project and are now replacing it with a completely useless refurbishment programme.
Deputy Harkin, referring to a meeting held in Sligo in the last few days, said “Garda management in Sligo, the OPW and the Accommodation Unit of An Garda Siochana met to discuss the suitability of the station and it is my understanding that it was made abundantly clear that the existing footprint of Sligo Garda Station will not be able to accommodate the requirements of a modern, efficient policing service”.
“Calling on the Taoiseach to intervene, she said, “back in 2017, over 150 Gardai walked out of Sligo Garda Station because of deplorable working conditions – how bad was it for that to happen”.
Deputy Harkin emphasised that, “this is not a politician saying we need a new Garda Station, it is the Gardai themselves, it is Garda management”.
Responding to the Taoiseach’s assertion that 620 Gardai were appointed nationally, Deputy Harkin emphasised that none of them can be accommodated in Sligo Garda Station, as it was already bursting at the seams.
Speaking on the issue that if an Armed Response Unit was needed it had to come from Galway, approximately 50% of the time, Deputy Harkin insisted that this, on top of the U-turn on Sligo Garda Station, was adding insult to injury. “Galway is 140 km from Sligo, 160 km from Manorhamilton, so the message from Government to the people of Sligo and Leitrim, is that policing is being downgraded and people need answers”, she insisted.
Addressing the Taoiseach, Deputy Harkin asserted, that while certain matters were the responsibility of Garda management, the Government was in charge of overall policing policy and could not duck that responsibility.
She welcomed the Taoiseach’s commitment to speak to the Minister for Justice regarding the need for a new Garda Station. She cautioned however, that the time for talking was over. “The plans are in place, the site is purchased, and we need to see the new Garda Station built”, Deputy Harkin insisted.
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