HENRY Street Garda Station in Limerick is to get a major upgrade to the tune of €500,000, it has been confirmed.
The move - reported in the An Garda Siochana building and refurbishment programme announced by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald - will see the number of cells in the station almost double.
While the Office of Public Works and the Department of Justice were unable to confirm exact details of the investment, the Leader understands there will be a new dedicated entrance to the custody suite at the rear of the station which will remove the need to bring prisoners through the current public office, as is the case at present.
The suite will include a number of interview rooms, consultation rooms, plus medical rooms, and will be equipped with CCTV.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan has welcomed the long-awaited investment at Limerick’s divisional garda headquarters.
He said: “It is very welcome in the location of Henry Street which will allow the gardai to continue their work with a purpose built facility.”
When the development is complete, it will mean all prisoners will be able to be dealt with in one area of the garda station, rather than having to be brought between different parts.
Former detective garda Cllr Sean Lynch, who chairs the Joint Policing Committee has welcomed the investment, saying the facility has seen little refurbishment since it opened in 1977.
“Henry Street as we speak is a major health and safety concern, and the building is not fit for purpose for its members, both male and female. For decades, we have been waiting for the refurbishment and to deal with those health and safety issues which do exist in Henry Street,” he told the Limerick Leader.
During the refurbishment, which is expected to be completed by 2016, prisoners will be detained at other garda stations in Limerick.
This is something which Cllr Lynch has expressed concern over.
He added: “Henry Street is unique in most of its prisoners come in as a result of public order incidents. Roxboro only has a very few cells, and they have their own issues to deal with. If you are going to take prisoners out of the city to other garda stations, this is creating a problem in itself.”
Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell said the refurbishment will “very much assist the gardai in Henry Street, with Chief Supt David Sheahan and his staff with carrying out the policing work on behalf of the people of Limerick.”
Meanwhile, the €60m capital investment programme will also see the garda station in Newcastle West extended and refurbished at a cost of €1m.
There are high hopes in the county town that work will begin next year.