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City garda stations face threat of closure

SOME of Dublin's 49 permanently open garda stations will have restricted opening hours in a bid to save money.

The public who need to contact gardai will be referred to the nearest station or district headquarters, as happens already in some rural stations.

This is one of the cost saving measures being considered by the Government.

A number of barracks are due to close in rural districts but the move will be more limited than previously thought.







CONCERN

Instead, the focus is expected to be on Dublin where its 49 'round the clock' garda stations are under review. It is understood that some may lose their permanent status.

Other station closures are also being considered, but these are confined largely to stations already in poor condition and which are only manned for a few hours a week.

In rural areas, the focus will be on stations with just one garda, which could be replaced by regular patrols from district headquarters.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said it was concerned about the potential for further loss of contact between local gardai and their communities.

The Garda Representative Association official in Cork Michael Corcoran warned that authorities would have to take account of the time taken to respond to calls.

The list of stations that will be affected was compiled by local garda management after reviewing divisional resources.

Senior officers then studied the list at the request of Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

Mr Shatter has rejected earlier reports that 200 of the 703 stations could be shut because of the cutbacks but acknowledged some barracks would disappear and others would open for shorter periods.

Small stations where the accommodation is in disrepair could be replaced by taking a room in the local post office or community hall.

Some stations have been effectively shut, but have never been officially listed as closed.

"The emphasis is on maintaining a garda presence in the local community and avoiding severing the vital link between the force and the people," one officer said.

"The local garda spends most of his or her time on patrol and the changes mean that instead of carrying out office duties in a derelict building, the work could be done in a room elsewhere," he added.

He also dismissed suggestions that stations would be shut because crime levels in their areas were low.

mlavery@hnews.ie