Donegal Joint Policing Committee Chair Cllr Patrick Mc Gowan, has hit out at Minister Alan Shatter’s new national policing strategy of Garda ‘clinics’ replacing closed Garda stations.
Cllr Patrick Mc Gowan has written to both Minister Alan Shatter and the Gardai Commissioner requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the level of vulnerability felt by people living in the border area.
He said that at a recent meeting in Newtowncunningham a woman talked about the fear she had for herself and family in her own home at the reports of further Gardai stations closing and she was unable to get anyone to answered the phone in the local Gardai stations.
Said Cllr McGowan: “All the good work to protect and serve the most vulnerable communities across the country over the years is been thrown away and in some cases the level of fear in some areas is as high now as during the troubles.
“Groups have critised the fact that no new Gardai are been trained to replace the existing force when they reach retirement age. What we need is more Gardaí patrolling our areas, more Gardai in training and a necklace of Gardai stations placed strategy along the Border so as to show that there is a visible , adequate presence in the area to deter any opportunist.”
He said there are real fears that an additional 80 Gardai station face closure and that this news about ‘clinics’ in the local Communities are just the beginning.
“This policy doesn’t stand up or make any sense and is coming in for severe critics from rank and file Gardai themselves,” he claimed.
“No amount of press Government releases will replace people’s fear of isolation knowing that the Gardai are to be withdrawn to major centre of population and will only be present in rural border areas as a outreach service on social media or in virtual reality.
“Costs of maintaining existing Gardaí stations across the country are minimal and give a sense of security to residents and communities they represent, it is clearly money well spent.
“The Donegal JPC have organized the first ever County Wide public Consultation workshop in The Councils Training Center in Stranorlar on the 19th November. Chief Superintendent Terry Mc Ginn ,The County Community Forum and Donegal County Council will all be present.
“Community alert and Neighborhood watch groups from all over the County will be contacted and encouraged to attend .
“It is planned to discuses Policing issues and draw up a list of concerns with recommendations to forward to the Gardai Commissioner for inclusion in the Gardai Policing plan,” added Cllr McGowan.