Communities in Ballymore Eustace, Kill, Ballytore, Hollywood and Donard have sent a strong message to Minister Alan Shatter - “hands off our garda stations”.
“This is not the way to communicate with the community. This is very high handed. When he made his announcement the Minister might as well have published a brochure, a big advertisement for all the criminals,” said Ballymore Eustace resident, Noel McCarthy.
Mr. McCarthy was responding the announcement of the closures which was made last Wednesday December 5.
He has written to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and the gardai urging them to look at alternatives for policing the town. He is awaiting a response and is planning a public meeting to deal with the matter.Ó
“I am very annoyed by the way the news of the closures were slipped in on the day of the budget to hide it from the media,” he added.
Mr McCarthy said the community had offered to rent the garda station if it was a case of a lack of money but he got no response. He scoffed the claim that the money saved would go towards new garda cars. He praised the local Ballymore Eustace garda and how he was trusted and confided in by locals.
He explained that with the additional closure of Hollywood and Donard stations, this leaves a whole section of the county and West Wicklow without a garda station for miles.
Chairman of Ballymore Eustace Community Development Association, Tom O’Keefe said; “The community is trying to absorb the shock of it. We are not sure what our next move will be but the community will not take it lying down,” he said.
Two members of Kill Tidy Town Association were reeling from the news.
“It’s not that long ago that they put in a lot of new equipment there. People feel there should be a garda on duty. It’s terrible to think that when anything happens that you won’t be able to get a garda from Kill. You will have to contact Naas garda station,” they said.
In Ballytore, word of the pending closure was starting to spread. Local business woman, Marcella O’Reilly stressed; “I would be concerned about the older people who may be worried for their safety. If the area is not policed locally, the people that find out about it may target it and that could make older people feel very vulnerable.”
- Niamh O’Donoghue