Rally to reopen Garda station draws big crowd

by Emma Nolan

The campaign to reopen Stepaside Garda Station came to a head on Sunday January 24 as a rally attended by a number of politicians which drew a crowd of over 500 locals was held.
The protesters turned out to hear how their local councillors and TDs plan to address the issue which residents of rural areas of Dundrum, Stepaside, Kilgobbin, Kiltiernan, Glenamuck and Glencullen say has seen a rise in crime and break ins since the closure of Stepaside Garda station in April 2013.
The speakers in favour of reopening the station were general election hopefuls, Cllr Josepha Madigan (FG), Senator Mary White (FF), Cllr Sorcha Nic Cormaic (SF), Cllr Catherine Martin (GP), Shane Ross TD (Ind) and Cllr Lettie McCarthy (Lab).
Defending the closure were Alan Shatter TD (FG) and Alex White (Lab), the former of whom was jeered by the crowd as he expressed his reasons for supporting the closure. The opinion that was met with resentment from the protestors was: “It is better that we have Gardai in patrol cars engaged in community policing than sitting behind desks in stations.”
Shatter equates the rise in crime in the area to the proximity of the M50, the improved transport infrastructure and the mobility of burglar gangs and believes that the candidates in favour are “misleading the community into believing that a reopening of the station in Stepaside would end the problem of burglaries in the area and falsely promising that a vote for them will result in the station being reopened”.
Cllr Martin urged the opposition to “listen to the people” and condemned the “heartless and callous” decision to close the station. She said: “The decision to close Stepaside Garda Station was an attack that inflicts terror and unnecessary upset and suffering on the community.”
Fine Gael candidate Madigan, who just recently went against the consensus of her party by campaigning for the reopening, praised the Government’s efforts to tackle crime with Operation Thor but stressed that authorities need to “urgently prioritise the area for a review of its policing needs”.
Deputy Ross described Stepaside as a “burglary blackspot” and said: “The sooner a new government reverses this flawed decision the better.”
Both Senator White and Cllr McCarthy highlighted the growth in population that has occurred in the area in recent years which is continuing to grow as new infrastructure is introduced and stressed that the presence of a station is needed to accommodate the growing community. While Cllr Nic Cormaic said: “Let no-one tell you there is no correlation between a decrease in Garda presence and an increase in crime.”

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