THE amalgamation of the Askeaton garda district with another district in the county is under consideration. But Chief Superintendent David Sheahan insists that no firm proposals have been made on the matter.
“Absolutely no decision has been made,” he told the Limerick Leader. But he added: “It is up for consideration. But nobody knows when or if or what it will entail.
“We are doing a piece of work looking at how best to police the area,” he continued. “There is a rationalisation of districts going on.”
Following the retirement earlier this year of Supt Joe Roe, the position of superintendent of the Askeaton garda district has remained unfilled and this has fuelled concerns about the future of the district.
Local councillor Kevin Sheahan has been vociferous in raising his concerns. His is particularly angry that garda recruitment has stalled while at the same time, the army has been allowed to recruit 800 extra soldiers. “The army doesn’t protect the people of Ireland,” he said. “There is no recognition we need a garda presence in rural Ireland.”
“What happened in Pallasgreen last week is indicative of what can happen in rural areas,” he continued. And he feared that if rationalisation were to take place in West Limerick, the most likely outcome would be the merger of Askeaton with Newcastle West and a downgrade of the Askeaton station. There is huge disappointment in the area about this,” Cllr Sheahan said.
“We feel badly let down. I cannot believe, since word got out on this, the reaction there has been. People are so angry. And I would call on the Minister and on the Garda Commissioner to look seriously at our situation and not throw us to the wolves.”
His biggest concern, he said, was that fear would replace anger if the Garda presence in West Limerick were to be diluted.