THE downgrading of Askeaton Garda Station as a district headquarters could take place within weeks, the Limerick Leader has reliably learnt.
The move has been signalled for some months but senior Garda sources have indicated that the merger of the Askeaton and Newcastle West Garda Districts is on the cards for the end of February or early March.
From then, headquarters will be in Newcastle West and Askeaton would operate on a one-shift-per-day basis.
Meanwhile, over 200 residents in the Askeaton area have supported a Fianna Fail petition calling for Askeaton to remain as a district headquarters.
“This underscores the feeling on the ground that people do not want to see their Garda station downgraded,” Niall Collins TD said. “What it means, potentially, is that Askeaton, instead of being a 24/7 station will become a station with a Sergeant and three or four Gardai.”
This reduction in Garda manpower, he added, was a huge concern to people in the area.
“It is a big blow and the government is failing to recognise any logic. They are centralising service away from the community.” The Garda Siochana was being reduced to a glorified community alert scheme in some areas because of lack of resources, Mr Collins declared.
Askeaton-based Cllr Kevin Sheahan (FF) said there was genuine fear and disappointment in the area over the proposed downgrading and a feeling also that people’s concerns were being dismissed by the Minister for Justice.
He hoped the petition might at least influence the level of service to be provided.