BRUFF gardai are rolling out a policing project to serve communities who have lost their local garda from station closures or retirement.
Speaking in Galbally Bruff Superintendent Alan Cunningham launched the initiative, which he says is to fill the vacuum that exists from station closures and retirements and “keep the links with the communities in these areas”.
Local councillor, Eddie Ryan, said the large turn-out by locals for the launch on a week day demonstrated the strength of feeling on the issue and their support for the plan.
The clinics will serve Galbally - the station was closed early this year; Oola - garda there retired in recent weeks and Knocklong.
Supt Cunningham said the weekly clinic will be advertised locally in advance with a time and date that a garda will be available to meet with locals to address any concerns they may have.
“They can deal with tax forms, passport applications and any community issues they wish to bring to the attention of the garda.
“They will able to meet the garda in private,” said Supt Cunningham.
The meeting places will be the halls in Galbally and Knocklong and the garda station in Oola.
Garda Natasha Walsh will be the liaison garda for Galbally; Garda Edel Moloney will hold clinics in Oola and Garda Dino Wilkinson in Knocklong.
Indeed, there has not been a garda station in Knocklong for many, many years, so this will be the first time they will have the facility of meeting a garda in the village in a long time.
Supt Cunningham said the plan was a joint one between gardai and locals.
“A lot of people are interested in this and want to see it going forward. We have got a very positive reaction,” said Supt Cunningham.
While overall crime is down, the superintendent said there was an increase in burglaries in the district a number of weeks ago.
“We ran a targeted operation against a criminal gang from Dublin and arrested and charged a man from West Dublin in connection with them,” said Supt Cunningham.
Cllr Eddie Ryan welcomed the new policing plan in the three communities.
“The ideal situation would be to hold on to our garda station but we have to make the best of the situation.
“The superintendent came up with the idea, I spoke to the community alert and community council and everybody was delighted with it. You can see that by the crowd of locals that turned up and Mary Harty and Pauline Walsh who travelled from Knocklong.
“It means that people can get forms signed, licenses, passports and talk to the garda in private over any security concerns they might have. It is much more convenient instead of driving the 15 miles to Bruff,” said Cllr Ryan.