Garda brass at station meeting

by Gazette Reporter

AROUND 450 people attended a meeting to discuss crime and the closure of Stepaside Garda Station chaired on November 17 by Deputy Shane Ross (Ind) in Wayside Football Club in Kilternan.
Deputy Ross, who organised the meeting, told The Gazette that assistant commissioner John Twomey came to the meeting to hear from local people.
“Residents told their own stories of their disillusionment that the Garda station had gone and told their stories of crime, some harrowing. I called for a show of hands on who wanted Stepaside Garda Station to reopen and it was unanimous.
“After another show of hands asking who there had been affected by burglaries, there was a clear majority. The meeting is a step-up for us as now the Phoenix Park [Garda HQ] is hearing what we have to say. There was huge anger in the room.”
Cllr Lettie McCarthy (Lab) said: “Closing [Stepaside Garda Station] was ill-conceived and I’m of the view it should be taken out of the political arena in order to make progress and assess all the facts on the table.
“We need to look at future population growth in the area and make an assessment about the need for a brand new Garda station soon or there may not be a site for one anymore.”
Cllr Deirdre Donnelly (Ind) said: “What shocked me were the stories I heard from residents in the Glencullen-Sandyford ward relating to the increase in crime since the closure of Stepaside Garda Station. Parents spoke about the fear they have when their children, especially teenagers, are out in the evening.”
Des Kennedy who owns Centra in Stepaside, said: “Crime has undoubtedly increased at a fast rate since the station closed. It’s now a weekly event that car thefts occur in the area and houses are broken into.
“One house near the [closed] station had three burglaries in three months this year.
“Community gardai in the area are fantastic at keeping in touch with locals, but that attention is not consistent as it’s intense for a while and then dies off.
“The meeting was very productive and at the end it turned towards re-opening the Stepaside Garda Station. People were angry but constructive and obedient and we got the message over to the assistant commissioner and hope he’ll carry back that we need Garda presence in the area.”
Assistant commissioner Twomey will now bring issues raised at the meeting to the attention of acting commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and a future meeting will be organised.

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