1,500 at Garda station protest

by Gazette Reporter
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A HUGE crowd of almost 1,500 people attended a protest organised by local people and politicians against the closure of Stepaside Garda Station on Sunday, Februay 3.
The protesters formed a human chain around the Garda station in a gesture intended to send a message to the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, that local residents are united in their objection to the proposed closure that is due to come into effect later this year.
At the protest, Sinn Fein representative Shaun Tracey said: “Minister Shatter has continually said that the closure of local Garda stations will be done in consultation with the communities affected.
“But no consultation took place with this community until after the decision to close the station was made.  That is not consultation – it is an attempt at ‘spin’ after the decision has already been made.”
Ahead of the rally, Deputy Shane Ross (Ind) said: “Our campaign is mushrooming. The Government is going to get a shock. The Labour/Fine Gael coalition will ignore us at their peril.”
Last week, 95 Garda stations around the country were closed as part of Minister Shatter’s reorganisation of policing within the State.
In a statement on the Stepaside Garda Station closure, Minister Shatter said: “Stepaside Garda Station, in my constituency of Dublin South, is the largest Garda station to be closed in the implementation of the Garda Commissioner’s Policing Plan for 2013.
“The closure of the Stepaside Garda Station will not result in a loss of gardai in the Stepaside area.  The 34 garda members currently stationed in Stepaside will be primarily based in Dundrum Garda Station, with some also stationed in Blackrock station.”
However, local people and gardai in Stepaside say that if the closure goes ahead, the nearest 24-hour Garda station will be in Wicklow – some 30 miles away – and that there would be no other station between Tallaght and Dun Laoghaire open after 9pm.
In response to the protest rally, Minister Shatter said: “I recognise that some of my constituents in the Stepaside area are genuinely concerned at the pending closure.
“However, as Minister for Justice, it would be entirely wrong of me to second-guess the Garda Commissioner’s judgement and expertise in this matter.
“I have not done so in the context of Garda stations to be closed in other parts of the country, and neither will I do so in my own constituency.”

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