FOLLOWING last week’s announcement that Stepaside Garda Station is set to reopen, overjoyed locals have hit back at critics over “parish-pump” comments.
Local resident Aileen Eglington said: “As somebody who lives and works in the community, to describe the reopening of the station as ‘parish-pump politics’ is outrageous.
“I feel that very strongly, as someone who’s suffered from crime, as someone who’s worked with the police in the community, who’s seen the number of gardai in the Dundrum area drop.
“I’ve seen crime increase and the lack of patrols, so how dare they call it parish-pump politics!
“That is about fighting for your local community, and all those politicians stuck their necks out because the decision to close the station was flawed in the first place.”
The station closed in March 2013 despite strong opposition from local residents and politicians who maintain that crime has risen in the area since the closure.
It 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.
The Dublin Rathdown minister has since received a barrage of negative comments online accusing him of parish-pump politics and cronyism – something he has always spoken out against.
However, Minister Ross told The Gazette this week that the station’s reopening will “have a hugely positive impact on the local community, which is growing in size every year and thus needs an effective and local Garda presence”.
He said: “This community has been fighting for the reopening of Stepaside Garda Station since the day it was closed.
“That decision, along with the closure of 138 other stations, was a mistake by the last government.
“During the Programme for Government talks with Fine Gael last year, I sought for a review of the decision to close those stations and I specifically looked for those in the worst affected areas to be opened immediately.
“While it took longer than anticipated, I am delighted that the Garda Commissioner, and the Cabinet, have acknowledged the need for Stepaside Garda Station to be reopened,” said Minister Ross.
Reiterating her stance, Aileen Eglington said: “How dare people call it parish-pump politics! Who do these people think they are?
“All of the people who made those comments online should actually listen to the problems in our community.
“We know that the promise of ‘smart policing’ was never delivered, simply because there aren’t enough police. This is an expanding community.
“I applaud everyone in the community, the politicians included, for sticking to their guns.
“Shane Ross actually stood by his word, and so did Catherine Martin, Josepha Madigan and Lettie McCarthy.”