By HENRY BAURESS
THE new Leixlip garda station opened to the public on Friday.
The office near the former ESB premises is now closed and a brand new building, built by the Office of Public Works (OPW), opened its doors on 10 October.
The building, which includes four cells, one of them for juveniles, will operate on a 24-hour basis.
The station now has around 25 Gardai plus a number of civilians who will carry out a number of administrative duties, including dealing with the public.
Garda Inspector Noel Mostyn, who was this week welcoming visitors, neigbours and other well wishers, said this will release Gardai for other duties.
While the station currently operates under the District Headquarters at Lucan, from 1 January next, the Leixlip station will become a District Headquarters in its own right.
Following administrative changes made by the Gardai it will be the main station for a division including Leixlip, Maynooth, Celbridge, Kilcock and Carbury areas.
It is expected that when the change is made on 1 January, the number of Gardai at the station will almost double so that the new area will be covered.
On Tuesday, Pat Cooney, a spokesperson for the Leixlip Confey Neighbourhood Watch, welcomed the opening and its 24-hour service.
Wishing recently retired Garda Tim Mulcahy well, Mr. Cooney said Neighbourhood Watch have been campaigning for a a 24 hour station since 1994.
He called on Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, to open the station as a Leixlip station before it becomes a Divisional headquarters next year.
The new station has 36 parking spaces, a compound for confiscated vehicles, numerous rooms, washing and shower facilities for Garda and prisoners alike, meeting and training rooms and space to test drivers in relation to alcohol and other intoxicants.
It is also well stocked with cameras for the long ter protection of both prisoners and Gardai from any abuses.
As related in last week’s newspaper, there is long term health concern over what equipment, other than Garda equipment, will be put on the mast at the station.
OPW spokesperson, George Moir, raised the possibility there could be up to 12 items on the mast. For the moment the only equipment will be Garda communication equipment but while two companies have asked about using the mast no licences have yet been granted by the OPW.