Concerns have been expressed that statistics showing that Limerick has the highest ratio of gardai per head of population may be used to justify the closure of additional garda stations in the Limerick division.
Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan was questioned about potential garda station closures when he appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality this Wednesday afternoon.
He told the committee that an analysis of the countryâ€™s garda stations is nearing completion and that he will be forwarding recommendations to Minister Alan Shatter in the near future.
â€œWhat I am providing for the minister is the collateral, the reasoning, the logic behind the decisions that formed the recommendations to close these stations and indicating the type of effectiveness that can flow from reducing these stations and redeploying some of the personnel,â€ he said.
Comm Callinan reassured the committee that communities where garda stations are closed will not be abandoned by the force.
It is understood that a number of garda stations in Limerick have been identified by Chief Supt David Sheahan for possible closure in 2013 on top of the closure of Doon and Shanagolden garda stations earlier this year.
Deputy Niall Collins, who is a member of the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, said there has also been speculation that the current Askeaton gardai district will be â€œerasedâ€ as part of a restructuring of the Limerick garda division.
While Commissioner Callinan did not comment on this, he assured Deputy Collins that â€œthere will be no withdrawal of services on my watchâ€.
According to figures published this week, there is one garda for every 314 people living in Limerick which is significantly above the national average of one garda for every 395 people.
Deputy Collins says he is concerned that the figures may be used by Minister Shatter as an excuse to cut garda resources in Limerick.
â€œThe minister is very quick to use statistics in support of his agenda of reducing (garda) numbers and his agenda to close stations and to use the figures in this way is a nonsense,â€ he told the Limerick Leader.