RURAL communities in east Clare fear they will be seen as “soft targets” by roving criminals following confirmation that garda stations in Mountshannon and Broadford are to close as part of Garda cutbacks, according to Fianna Fail’s Cllr Cathal Crowe.
That feeling of insecurity would be compounded once Killaloe is effectively “downgraded” as a Garda district headquarters and ultimate responsibility for policing east Clare is transferred to Ennis, he added.
Station closures in Mountshannon and Broadford have been confirmed in the 2013 policing plan but Cllr Crowe believes the amount of money saved will be minimal.
“It could potentially cost as much to maintain closed stations as it would to keep them open. Closed stations won’t just be allowed to sit there, falling into disrepair - as state-owned buildings they will have to be maintained and kept in good condition. I am not privy to the running costs of either Broadford or Mountshannon garda stations but beyond heating and lighting costs it cannot cost much to keep them open and operational. It is a false economy to think that closing rural garda stations will make significant savings,” he declared.
“In closing garda stations the government are depriving rural communities of a sense of security. I have been inundated with phonecalls and text messages from worried local residents. They fear that their communities will be at risk of appearing soft and vulnerable to criminal elements.”
Cllr Crowe claimed that Fine Gael and Labour TDs who attended a meeting organised by the community alert committees in O’Callaghans Mills and Broadford at the beginning of this month were “now defending the policing plan”.
That plan would see Broadford garda station, which had a garda and sergeant until 1993, closed and Garda Pat Keane transferred to Ardnacrusha, Cllr Crowe said. He also expressed his concern at the plan to amalgamate the Killaloe and Ennis garda districts. Head of the Clare garda division, Chief Supt John Kerin, has already said he was committed to keeping an inspector based in Killaloe.