Call for timeline to reopen Stepaside garda station

by Rebecca Ryan
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Green Party Deputy Leader Catherine Martin is calling on the government to clarify a timeline for re-opening Stepaside Garda Station

Stepaside garda station must be given a specific timeline for reopening, according to a local TD.

It was announced in 2017 that the station, along with five others across the country, would reopen after a recommendation from acting Garda Commissioner Donal O’Cualain.

In February 2018, An Garda Siochana compiled and submitted a “statement of needs” for the station outlining the fit-out requirements.

Green Party Deputy Leader Catherine Martin said it is “a year on” from when the Government announced the station would be reopened.

“The local community were led to believe that a concrete commitment was given in respect of its imminent reopening, but on the anniversary of that announcement, there is still no specific timeline for when that will happen.

“Clarity is required from Government. A year has passed since the fanfare of the announcement, and the patience of the local community is wearing thin, while all the time serious security concerns remain,” said Deputy Martin.

She has submitted a Parliamentary Question (PQ) to the Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan and to the Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran calling for clear timeline for the reopening of the station.

Minister Charlie Flanagan has since responded to Deputy Martin’s PQ. In the response shown to Dublin Gazette, Minister Flanagan said: “As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. I understand that the OPW has concluded the necessary technical surveys and advised the Commissioner accordingly. The Commissioner is currently considering the matter and has assured me that he will be reverting to the OPW shortly.

“It is not possible to say at this stage when the six stations will reopen as this depends on a number of factors, but my officials are engaging on an on-going basis with An Garda Siochana and the OPW as they progress these very important projects.”

Owner of Fleming’s Butchers in Stepaside village, Michael Fleming, told Dublin Gazette the locals are “fed up” waiting.

“I feel this is dragging on now. The people in the area say they fear it’s going to turn into another election issue, which we’re not going to let happen.

“They [locals] are fed up. They feel that Shane Ross is keeping a very low profile in the area at the moment. They want answers. They want to know when it’s going to happen. They want a timeline.  Nobody has come forward with answers, we’re not getting any information.

“[Minister Kevin] Boxer Moran came up to The Step Inn and he promised that he would get the work started straight away, but that hasn’t happened.”

Mr Fleming also said that security is a huge issue and he told us his house and business has been broken into since the station has closed.

“My shop has been broken into. They were caught that night which was good, but I don’t think that would have happened before when the station was only across the road.”

Owner of The Step Inn, John McCluskey said that security is “fierce important” to the community and told us about more break-ins in the locality.

“The week before last, the chemist had a smash-and-grab done on it. [At] 3 o’clock in the morning, two or three lads pulled up outside, smashed in their windows, made a mess of the place and robbed the till. There was 300 quid in it, but it cost €2,500 worth of damage.”

Mr McCluskey said locals have been left in “limbo land”: “Everybody feels like they’ve been made fools of. All it is, is lip service. They tell us the station is going to be open, but nobody can tell us when. We’re in limbo land.”

Irate locals have been taking to Facebook to vent their frustration.

One local said: “The people of the community have long since grown tired with the political nonsense going on in the background and just want the station opened.”

While another wrote: “The lack of communication is so frustrating.”

Speaking on Dun Laoghaire TD Maria Bailey’s call for a new garda station in Cherrywood or Ballyogan, Deputy Catherine told Dublin Gazette that, with the predicted population growth in the Cherrywood area, she “understands” the call for a garda station there, but that locals in Stepaside are “very concerned” that a Cherrywood station would takes years to deliver.

Michael Fleming of Fleming’s Butchers echoed that concern and said: “A superstation like Cherrywood could take another 10 to 15 years to build. The station needs to be put back into Stepaside and not to worry about a station in Cherrywood.”

We did not receive any comment from Minister Shane Ross or Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran before going to print. However a Spokesperson for Minister Moran has since told us:

“A brief of requirements from An Garda Síochána has been received by the OPW.  The date on which the premises must be vacated will be determined when the works on the former station are assessed and a commencement date decided.”

 

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