The proposed new garda district HQ, designed by Hugh Kelly architects
MEMBERS of the Garda Representative Association have warned that the latest proposal for the delivery of a new garda station in County Limerick will be the ‘last chance saloon’.
Fresh commitments were made this week after Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, Kevin Boxer Moran, visited the Newcastle West station with local Minister of State for Finance, Patrick O’Donovan.
At a meeting between the two politicians, Supt Eamon O’Neill, GRA representatives and OPW officials, a proposed roadmap – including temporary measures until the completion of a new district headquarters – was set out.
It is proposed that the plan will commence in October 2018, when gardai will be reallocated from Newcastle West garda station to other stations on a phased basis, a process which will continue for a year until the site is totally vacated.
Construction will then commence in October 2019, according to the plan.
The GRA has said that it is willing to work with the new proposal, which they believe is a realistic and achievable timeframe.
But it warned that if there are any more hiccups in the delivery of the station, members will have no choice but to take action.
“It cannot be underestimated that a breach of this proposal will leave the membership with no alternative, it is last chance saloon,” said vice-president of the GRA and Limerick representative, Garda Frank Thornton.
“The membership have been more than accommodating towards local garda management and Government to date. This accommodation remains in place by a thread.”
Deputy Moran committed during his visit that he was a ‘a man of his word’, pledging to ringfence the necessary funding for the project.
Garda Thornton said: “The goodwill of the members of Newcastle West garda station is the only reason the station remains open to date - a statement accepted by all external parties and local garda management - such are the dire working conditions presented to the membership on a daily basis.
“The station is unfit for modern day policing - as are any four bedroom bungalows,” added Garda Thornton on behalf of the GRA.
Commitments were made for the provision of quarterly progress reports by the OPW.
Deputy O’Donovan said that he is glad “that the two key ministers, Charlie Flanagan and Kevin Boxer Moran, have now seen the station, have met the representatives, seen the conditions and agreed a schedule.”