THE Garda Commissioner is being urged not to close any more rural garda stations despite new figures which show that several garda stations in County Limerick received less than one complaint a week during 2011.
The figures, which were compiled by the All-Island Research Observatory at NUI Maynooth show that Oola garda station was the quietest garda station in Limerick last year - receiving just 14 reports of crimes.
There were 16 crimes reported at Galbally garda station and 22 at Kilmeady garda station.
The figures pail into insignificance when compared with some of Limerick’s bigger garda stations such as Henry Street in the city where there were 4,717 reported crimes during 2011.
Both Doon and Shanagolden garda stations, which were closed earlier this year due to budget cutbacks, received more complaints than Oola and Galbally combined.
Although Chief Supt David Sheahan says there will be no further closures this year, there are fears that a number of rural garda stations in County Limerick may face closure next year.
Joe Meagher, Oola, former county councillor and current Community Alert chairman says despite the low number of reported crimes, it is vital that a garda station is retained in the village.
“You can’t beat a garda on the ground. There has been quite a number of robberies in the Oola area in recent times. Stealing diesel in particular is very common. Some fellows have been robbed a second and a third time. It is invaluable to have a garda presence in an area,” he said.Joe Meagher, who previously ran the Post Office in Oola pointing out that some crimes which occur in the area are reported directly to the district headquarters at Bruff Garda station when Oola garda station is closed.
“This Minister (Alan Shatter) is only trying to justify closing stations, they can use figures whatever way they like. You can use figures to justify anything.
“It is imperative that we have a garda presence, we are on the main N24 and we have had a garda station for years although it has been downgraded the past few years.
“If you looked at their statistics you’d think there was no robberies anywhere and they are on the increase everywhere,” he said.
Galbally garda station only recently transferred into the Limerick garda division and according to local councillor, Eddie Ryan, having a garda station in rural towns and villages is a deterrent to criminals.
“The message is crystal clear now - if you have the garda in your area and based in your area and your garda station is active and open, then that in itself is a deterrent. Criminals are going to think that this isn’t a place to go because they have an active station,” he said adding that no garda has been attached to Galbally garda station for several months.
“Our garda retired in February and he hasn’t been replaced. It has been put down to resources. The community and myself are still pressing for a resident guard in Galbally,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Several campaigns to retain rural garda stations in Limerick have intensified in recent months - particularly following a number of high profile robberies in East Limerick.
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