Reopening Stepaside ‘is not a top priority’

by Emma Nolan
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“THE people of Stepaside are adamant that we want our station reopened.”

Stepaside is this week, responding to comments by assistant Garda commissioner Pat Leahy who said that the reopening of Stepaside garda station is not his top priority.

Garda management confirmed last week to the Public Accounts Committee that Stepaside is one of the six closed stations to be reopened.

Criteria set by the Department of Justice required gardai to choose six stations, and while he said that Stepaside met the criteria “better than any other” station, it would not be “top of his list”.

“I would not send them there before sending them to Ballyfermot and Ronanstown and the north inner city,” he said.

Responding to the comments, Stepaside shop owner Des Kennedy told Dublin Gazette that he and other locals agree that Stepaside doesn’t have to be a priority but it does have to be reopened.

“I’m sure the assistant commissioner is aware of the increased crime in the area and Stepaside certainly has an increasing crime rate,” Des said.

“We don’t particularly want them to have Stepaside as a priority, we’re not looking for it to be the first station to be opened by any means, but the people of Stepaside do want their police station reopened.

“We don’t necessarily want to be first or second priority, we just want commitment.”

A public meeting was held by Minister Shane Ross in Stepaside last week that was attended by a very large crowd.

Des said that the feeling at the meeting was “relief” that the station will be reopened.
Speaking on the “parish pump” criticism of the Stepaside situation in the media, Des says it’s simply not true.

“We had over 1,800 people who demonstrated on the street at the closure of the station and Shane Ross, we’re delighted to say, has brought it on to the floor of the Dail for us.

“But the people of Stepaside are still adamant that the station has to be reopened – we have made a point that if it’s not reopened, it will become a big issue at the next general election.”

Minister Ross said his view that the station should be reopened is “not just [his] personal opinion” but that of vice-president of the Association of Sergeants and Inspectors Antoinette Cunningham’s too.

She said last year that there had been a significant increase in crime in the area since the station’s closure.

“I have consistently campaigned, with many locals who have been adversely affected by its closure, for the reopening of this much needed station.

“While progress to reopen the station has been slower than I would have liked, a timeline is now starting to emerge. Earlier this week I brought Minister for the Office of Public Works Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran to Stepaside to meet with local group representatives.

“He informed the assembled group that the OPW will be taking possession of the building in January, after which they will be able to assess the work to be done. We should then be able to confirm a date for opening.”

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