THE decision of the garda commissioner to close Mary Street garda station next year has been strongly criticised.
Commissioner, Martin Callinan, announced last week that a total of six garda stations will close in Limerick during 2013.
The other five - Kilfinane, Kilmeedy, Tournafulla, Castletown Conyers and Galbally - are all located in rural parts of the county, which will also see the downgrading of Askeaton garda station.
Mary Street garda station, which has been operating in some form since the foundation of the state, is currently home to a number of specialist units such as the divisional Scenes of Crime Scene unit.
The 14 gardai and three sergeants who are currently attached to the garda station, which is largely prefabricated, will all transfer to Henry Street garda station following the closure.
Former mayor of Limerick, Cllr John Gilligan said he was shocked when he heard the news.
He says the gardai at Mary Street have done a tremendous job in challenging conditions.
“Despite their working conditions, the gardai, particularly the community gardai, have over the last few years shown remarkable success in playing such as positive role in helping to transform our community,” he said, adding that he fears the local gardai will be “sucked into a larger anonymous force with a token gesture at community policing”.
Cllr Maurice Quinlivan says the closure of Mary Street garda station is a retrograde step.
“While the closure had been feared, local residents are extremely disappointed that it has come to pass. They are angry that this has happened in the face of the area’s ongoing heroin abuse problem. They believe that nobody in government is listening to them,” he said.