Shatter ‘has power to reverse Stepaside decision’

by Gazette Reporter

THE decision to close Stepaside Garda Station on March 14 is being described as a mistake by local politicians and campaigners, who believe that Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has the power to reverse the decision if he wishes.
Before confirmation of the date of closure for the station via a memo received by staff last week, locals, politicians and gardai had been vigorously protesting, with demonstrations including the formation of a human chain around the station and a petition signed by 3,000 people.
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown county councillors also wrote to the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, asking him to visit the area to be briefed on an upcoming development planned in the council area and the resulting population increase.
In relation to the letter campaign, Cllr Lettie McCarthy (Lab) said: “I can only assume the Commissioner’s Office was not fully briefed with the full facts in relation to planned and future development for the area served by Stepaside, which will ultimately see a population increase of thousands of residents.
“This is an area which has had a population increase of 300% over the past 20 years.”
Another leading campaigner, Deputy Shane Ross (Ind), told The Gazette: “One of the main proposals discussed at the last campaign committee meeting [on February 21] was to put pressure on the Commissioner.
“I don’t believe that his power is equal to the political power of the minister, but if we could remove him as a prop being used by Minister Shatter, it would make it easier for us to move ahead.
“We’ve still had no reply to our calls for a reversal of this decision from the minister, but he will feel the heat soon in no uncertain terms,” said Deputy Ross.
The message from the Department of Justice is that Minister Shatter cannot interfere with the Commissioner’s report, and that the decision to close 100 stations nationwide, including Stepaside, was based solely on the recommendations of the Garda Commissioner in his report on the overhaul on policing in Ireland.
Minister Shatter said: “The closure of any particular Garda station will not affect the procedure for the Garda response to emergency calls, which will continue as it is at present in the Dublin Metropolitan Region, which includes Stepaside.”
However, Deputy Ross does not believe the minister cannot alter the suggestions in the report.
He said: “The minister is responsible for all 100 closures, and should judge each on its individual merits. If a decision is wrong, it’s wrong.”

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