People living in the Kings Island area have spoken of their fears for the future of policing in the area after it was confirmed that Mary St Garda station is to close from this Thursday.
However, senior gardai have moved to allay concerns ahead of the closure of the station - along with five other stations in rural parts of the county.
At a public briefing at King’s Island Community Centre on Monday, Supt Frank O’Brien insisted there would be no impact on policing in the area as a result of the closure. “It’s unfortunate that it is closing down but we feel that while the building itself is closing down, there is a strong commitment to maintain the service - the actual policing service,” he said.
“The people that are currently assigned to Mary Street, while they will be working out of Mayorstone; they effectively will be covering the same area as they are covering today from Mary Street,” he added.
Mary Street station has been operating in one form or another since the foundation of the state almost 100 years ago. Most of the 14 gardai and three sergeants who are currently attached to the station, will transfer to Mayorstone station from Friday.
Supt O’Brien said as part of the new policing plan gardai will provide a “static service” at the Regeneration Offices in St Mary’s Park between 12 midday and 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
However, despite Supt O’Brien’s assurances, publican Tom Ryan, says the closure of Mary Street garda station is shocking.
“My window of the car was broken last week, the cleaners were broken into, there were two people mugged on Nicholas street in the daylight. They are talking about a police presence but we don’t see them,” he said.
Geraldine Reidy, 60, who has lived in Kings Island all her life says the closure of Mary Street garda station will be a huge loss to the local community.
“I think it is totally regressive of the Department of Justice to even consider closing Mary Street. The amount of time and effort that the community guards have put into working with young people in this area has been absolutely incredible and they are just going to destroy all that good work by closing it,” she said.
Thomas Ryan, 67, who has lived in St Mary’s Park for almost 40 years, says the closure of Mary Street will have an impact.
“I am a pensioner, I will have to travel all the way up to Henry Street or out to Mayorstone. It will be an awful strain on people especially the elderly because Mary Street is awful convenient where it is,” he said.
The head of the Limerick garda division, Chief Supt David Sheahan also attended Monday’s public briefing in St Mary’s Park.
He says he does not want to see the return of criminality to King’s Island as was the case before the deployment of an extra 100 garda in Limerick as part of the regeneration process.
“I have given reassurances that it is my intention to maintain the level of community guards in Kings Island as it is now and going forward,” he said adding that the deployment of community gardai in the Kings Island area in recent years has had a positive from both a policing perspective and a society perspective.