ALMOST three hundred people have signed a petition calling for Shanagolden garda station to remain open.
The petition has been organised by St Senan’s and District Community Alert and petition sheets were distributed in Shanagolden, Kilcolman, Creeves and Ballyhahill over the past three weeks. So far, some 271 people have indicated they are opposed to the closure - but this number could rise even further.
The garda station in Shanagolden, which is staffed by one garda, is one of two stations in Co Limerick due to close this year because of cuts in the Garda Siochana budget. The other is Doon.
Willie Balfe, PRO for St Senan’s and District Community Alert, said they decided to organise a petition as a way to gauge the mood and sentiment in the area. “We felt the garda station is needed here and that it would be a loss. But we wanted to see what the feeling was.”
The group will now decide its next step. “We haven’t approached any of the TDs yet,” Mr Balfe said. Asked what he felt their chances were in overturning the decision, he added: “We have to try. There is no point in letting them do what they like. It is something that should be here. The creamery is gone; the crèche is gone. If the garda station goes, will the post office be next?”
Mr Balfe argued that there was a large number of elderly people living alone in the Shanagolden area, making a garda presence crucial. Community Alert, he added, has provided monitored alarms to these residents.
Last month, Shanagolden and Doon were named among a total of 31 garda stations across the country which would close in 2012.
Ten other stations, the public was told, were to have their hours reduced and a further eight, which had been non-operational, were to remain permanently closed.
The closures were due to a €79m cut in the Garda Siochana budget.