THERE is widespread relief in Pallaskenry that the Garda station in the village will remain open.
Chief Supt David Sheahan has given a firm commitment to double this service â€œover the next couple of weeksâ€.
Speaking to the Limerick Leader following the packed meeting which took place in Pallaskenry Community Centre, Chief Supt Sheahan said: â€œIt has never been a consideration of mine to close Pallaskenry Garda station.â€
â€œWe currently have a Garda working on a part-time basis and I am going to double that in the short-term. In the coming weeks, I am hoping to have a second Garda working back to back.â€
The longer-term issue of appointing Garda members to permanent postings in the area is currently under discussion, Chief Supt Sheahan explained. At the moment, he said, all staff in the Garda district are being detailed centrally from Askeaton. But what he is planning is to break down the district into smaller sectors and then ring-fence personnel for those sectors. â€œThey would then have responsibility for the sector they are policing,â€ he explained.
There would be no need then, for the Garda members to be re-assigned to work in other areas in the normal course of events. That model of policing, he said, is contained in a proposal which is currently being considered by the Garda Commissioner.
But, Chief Supt Sheahan stressed, no decision has yet been made on the matter â€“ or on the issue of amalgamation of districts. â€œIn light of reducing numbers in the force and the possibility that a new superintendent will not be appointed in Askeaton, we had to come up with a model of policing that would meet the needs of the community.â€ He added: â€œNothing can happen in 2012. Any changes to the Garda districts can only be done if they are included in the policing plan for 2013.â€
However, he was confident he would have clarity on all the issues by December 6, the date fixed for a review meeting in Pallaskenry. â€œThe meeting was very positive and there was a great exchange of views from the ground,â€ he said. And he moved to reassure people that their views were heard. â€œI will take on board their views in any changes,â€ he said firmly.
Pallaskenry Community Council chairman Michael Oâ€™Sullivan said that they were reassured by what the Chief Superintendent had said although no date on the appointment of Garda on a permanent basis was given.
Other speakers at the meeting included Paddy Oâ€™Neill, principal of Salesian College, Tommy Oâ€™Shea, Kildimo Community Council, Randle Howlett, Kilcornan Community Council, local councillors and TDs along with Emmet Oâ€™Brien, a member of the Fianna Fail National Executive, and the person who organised the meeting.