AS MANY as 96 more garda stations could close across the country over the coming months but Oola is determined not to be one.
Over 70 attended a meeting organised by Oola Community Alert on the station’s future.
Former councillor and chairman of Oola Community Alert, Joe Meagher said the people in the room were very unhappy about the possible closure.
“No matter what they say about statistics or whatever way they dress it up there is no substitute for a garda on the ground especially now with so many robberies,”said Mr Meagher.
While all ages were in attendance it was particularly the elderly.
“A good few local people spoke and explained their own fears. I know myself from Community Alert the concern and worry that is out there. They are worried about being robbed day or night,” said Mr Meagher.
Also in attendance at the meeting were Deputy Dan Neville; Fianna Fail Justice spokesperson, Niall Collins; Cllrs Noel Gleeson and Brigid Teefy; and Emmet O’Brien, Fianna Fail national executive member, who is involved in a campaign on Pallaskenry station.
Mr Meagher said the meeting was a warning shot. “We don’t want the same thing to happen in Oola that happened in Doon,” said Mr Meagher.
Currently an assessment on what services are provided in the 664 units open is being overseen by senior Department of Justice and Garda personnel, including Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter said crime rates are down across the board, except for burglary. He also drawn a comparison with Scotland, which has a bigger population than the Ireland, but has just 340 police stations.
“What I know is that the commissioner is engaged in an overview of stations across the country. He will, I expect, in November or late October be presenting to me with his proposed policing plan for 2013 and I have no doubt he is again looking at the closure of stations that have no operational significance,” said Minister Shatter.
Mr Collins said most small stations cost less than €3,000 or less a year to run and this is justified by the fact they are strong deterrents to crime. “We cannot afford to see a breakdown of law and order in rural Ireland. The Minister should be looking to protect our elderly and vulnerable in rural Ireland instead of hiding behind statistics to abandon them.”