AN enlarged and refurbished garda station in Newcastle West is long overdue, Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan has declared.
And, in a bid to keep the momentum going on the issue, he has persuaded, Simon Harris, the Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works to visit the existing station next month.
Agreement has been reached in principle on the works that need to be done at station, Deputy O’Donovan revealed this week and it is expected that it will go out to tender next year.
However, he said: “In the meantime, I want to bring the Minister to Newcastle West to let him see first-hand the conditions there. I don’t want any further delay. I want the OPW and the garda authorities themselves to prioritise the matter.”
Since the amalgamation of Askeaton Garda District and Newcastle West last year, the numbers at work in the Newcastle West station have increased considerably, Deputy O’Donovan pointed out, and there is now serious overcrowding.
“It is probably one of the biggest garda districts in the country now. And the accommodation for civilian staff and garda personnel is inadequate. The station was built for a different era. The numbers have outgrown the station. It hasn’t been extended to reflect the expansion of the area and its importance as the district headquarters in the county town.”
The Garda station, Deputy O’Donovan pointed out was built in the 1970s and the only extension since has been the addition of a portakabin following President George W Bush’s visit to Ireland about ten years ago.
But the Government backbencher defended the building of a new Garda station in Abbeyfeale which opened in July 2005 but which now opens to the public just two hours a day.
Deputy O’ Donovan pointed out that Abbeyfeale Garda members as well as senior Garda officers use the premises even when it is closed to the public. A
nd he was confident that now that the numbers of new recruits are beginning to climb once more, the new station in Abbeyfeale would come into its own.
“I don’t regard it as a waste,” he said. The station in Abbeyfeale was needed and the old one had been put to good use by Abbeyfeale Search and Rescue.
“But I didn’t think we would be waiting this long for capital investment in Newcastle West as well,” he added. He plans to raise the matter in the Dail with Justice Minister Francis Fitzgerald.