herald

Sunday 16 December 2018

'I'd rather gardai in Ballyfermot than Stepaside'

Acting Garda Commissioner Donall O Cualain
Acting Garda Commissioner Donall O Cualain

Dublin's most senior garda has said he would prefer to send extra guards to Ballyfermot or the inner city than to Stepaside.

Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy told the Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that allocating officers to a reopened Stepaside Garda Station would not be his "number one priority".

It came as TDs were told that five other stations will also reopen under a pilot scheme promised by the Government.

They are: Rush in north Dublin, Carlow, Cavan, Cork and Wicklow.

Local TD and Independent Alliance Minister Shane Ross has been campaigning for Stepaside to reopen.

Stroke

Opposition TDs have made claims of "stroke politics", accusations he has denied.

The PAC heard how the criteria to be considered by the Garda Commissioner for reopening stations was set out by the Government.

Factors to be taken into account include population and crime rates.

"Stepaside fairly and squarely met those criteria better than anywhere else," said Mr Leahy.

But in terms of allocating personnel, he said "it currently would not be my number one priority. I have other pressing demands on resources across the region."

"I could not send guards to Stepaside before I'd send them to Ballyfermot, Ronanstown, and the north inner city and the south inner city," he said.

Needs

He said more resources may be provided in future that could be allocated to Stepaside, but for now and the "foreseeable future" he has "more pressing needs".

Fianna Fail TD Marc MacSharry asked Acting Garda Commissioner Donall O Cualain if the criteria for reopening stations should change to address priorities set out by Mr Leahy.

Mr O Cualain insisted the reopening of each of the six stations is "justifiable" on the basis of policing in the areas selected.

He did not set out a timeline for the reopening of any of the stations saying work will need to be done to bring them up to standard.

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