Locals claim victory as garda station to reopen

by Emma Nolan

AFTER years of protests from locals amid multiple break-ins and robberies across the area, Stepaside Garda Station is set to reopen.

The news was welcomed by Stepaside residents, who have been waiting a long time for their local station to return.

Des Kennedy, owner of the local Centra – which has been struck by robbers since the station’s closure – told The Gazette: “This is fantastic, long-awaited news.”

He credited local TD Shane Ross with the station’s reopening, saying: “It’s terrific. Shane Ross has done a great job for us, I have to say.”

Hailing the news, Minister Ross noted that Stepaside’s reopening will benefit the wider area by easing the pressure on Dundrum Garda Station.

It was announced on Tuesday morning that the station would reopen as an interim report by gardai was presented to the Cabinet.

Stepaside was one of more than 100 garda stations closed in 2013, with locals campaigning for it to reopen ever since.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross included the reopening of the station in his terms for government last year when the Independent Alliance formed a coalition with Fine Gael after the last general election.

Minister Ross told The Gazette that he is “delighted” to have delivered on his promise. He said: “It is now four years since our community lost our garda station and during that time we have suffered very negative consequences.

“This development affects not only the people of Stepaside, but also those areas covered by Dundrum Garda Station – the pressure on its services will be significantly eased.”

Other campaigners for the station’s reopening were local TDs, Catherine Martin (GP) and Jospeha Madigan (FG).

Deputy Martin said: “This is a very important first step in tackling the rise in crime in the Stepaside area which has occurred since the station closed. It will provide an important ‘on-the-ground’ garda presence.”

Deputy Madigan said that the reopening is a “major victory” for locals, adding: “It was reported last year that there was a 50% increase in burglaries recorded in the general environs of Stepaside since the closure of the garda station.

“With the growing population and an increased demographic, it is clear that this community needs a garda station.”

Party colleague Senator Neale Richmond also welcomed the news, but urged that “proper resources” must be delivered as part of the reopening.

Des Kennedy believes that “there is no doubt” that crime in the area will decrease once the station reopens.

He said: “It will make a vast difference to the area. It’s going to give every resident in this area, and the surrounding area, great comfort.

“It definitely gives us peace of mind straight away.”

Cllr Lettie McCarthy (Lab) said: “Many politicians played their part but huge thanks to Des Kennedy, who got the ball rolling and got all Stepaside businesses involved.”

She was echoed by Cllr Lynsey McGovern (Ind), who hailed the “people power” behind the campaign, adding: “the Stepaside community has worked tirelessly for their Garda station to be reopened – local campaigners never gave up, and their efforts paid off”.

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