Naas’ Fianna Fail Mayor has accused Fine Gael’s Tony Lawler of turning his back on his native Kill over the closure of the garda station.
Cllr. Willie Callaghan said; “Both areas (Kill and Ballymore) have grown significantly over the last 10 years and instead of withdrawing this essential service the Government should be investing in more Garda facilities in these areas. This is an attack on the neighbourhoods of Kill, Johnstown, Eadestown, Kilteel, Rathmore and across in Ballymore Eustace.
“I am extremely disappointed that Deputy Tony Lawlor a native of Kill has turned is back on the people who elected him less than two years ago and voted for the closure of the Garda station in Kill. I am calling on Deputy Lawlor to make a statement as to why he has disowned the people of Kill and the surrounding areas, and to give a commitment that he will have these decisions reversed immediately,” he said.
Deputy Lawlor said he had not turned his back on Kill. He pointed out he had been in discussions with the Chief Superintendant about garda resources in the area and he had tried to keep the station open. He said the decision was made by the commissioner and there was no political interfereance.
“I will be continuing to liase with the gardai to see that the resources are increased in the area and I will be working hard to see that the same level of patrols continue to operate in Kill and surrounding areas,” he said.
He pointed out that the closures came as a result of a deal done by the previous government with the Troika to reduce garda numbers.
The closure of three Kildare and two West Wicklow garda stations will put increased pressure on already under-resourced stations in other parts of the county, according to Deputy Catherine Murphy.
“Kildare, with 666 persons per garda, is already by far the worst resourced county in the country, and station closures are going to make this situation far worse,” said Murphy.
“Just last month, I held two public meetings on the issue where we heard there’s no longer even one car to cover Celbridge – an area of 30,000 residents over 35km. This is totally unacceptable.”
Cllr. Pádraig McEvoy, Chairperson of the County Joint Policing Committee, stressed; “We must engage as a priority with Minister Shatter and Garda Commissioner Callinan to try and address the shocking resource imbalance in Co Kildare, before crime rates get any worse.”
Cllr. Martin Miley said; “These stations are a lot more than just a building. They are an integral part of our community and the relationship of the garda with the community is second to none particularly with you as many of these garda will take a leading role in sporting organisations with young people.”
He said it costs n3,000 a year to keep each station open.
“The question is what cost is this decision going to be to our communities. To make this issue worse the Minister is also closing Donard and Hollywood in County Wicklow and anyone who knows geography knows Ballymore, Donard, Hollywood and Ballytore run parallel on the east side of Kildare and the West side of Wicklow which has a double effect of leaving the entire rural community of West Wicklow at East Kildare with no garda presence at all,” he added.
Fianna Fail Naas representative, James Lawless said; “Despite a growing crime wave across the Naas area and wider commuter belt, with burglaries up again, Minister Shatter has seen fit to close Garda Stations in Kill and in Ballymore Eustace, taking a total of three and a half local Garda resources out of those communities and being recalled to duties in Naas Town Station.”
It is not clear when the changes will come into place but it is thought it will happen within six months. As of October 10, there are 103 garda in Naas, 49 in Newbridge, 34 in Athy, 27 in Kildare town, 10 in Kilcock, 14 in Maynooth and 29 in Leixlip.
- Niamh O’Donoghue