The Chair of the Donegal Joint Policing Committee (JPC) has raised concern over proposals to restructure the Garda organisation.
A network of 19 “mini police forces” is to be set up across the country.
The move would see Donegal and Sligo/Leitrim become one force.
There are suggestions the plan will mean up to nine chief superintendents and as many as 30 superintendents — almost a fifth of all superintendents — may be “surplus to requirements”.
The “divisional” model will replace the current “district” model. There are 107 of these, headed by a superintendent.
Under the new model, there won’t be a superintendent in charge of everything in the district, but a divisional superintendent in charge of crime, two to three in charge of community engagement, one for performance, and an assistant principal officer in charge of HR, administration and finance.
Councillor Gerry McMonagle said he attended several national joint policing meetings across the country but at no time were major reforms outlined.
He told Donegal Daily: “These proposed changes were not raised with us at the JPC at a local level or for that matter nationally.
“I would have attended a number of joint policing meetings with other chairs of committees with the policing authority, but plans of this nature were never ever mentioned to us,” McMonagle added.
“There was always talk about improving Garda statistics but there was no talk of merging counties, divisions or districts.”
The Letterkenny councillor said suggestions of a new plan for the county only created further ‘uncertainty’.
He continued: “I haven’t heard anyone from any walk of life, and especially from the Gardaí, who are favour of it.
“Most of the rank and file Gardaí are opposed to it, they can’t understand it.
“The fact that the Garda Representative Association (GRA) or the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors were not informed, says a lot about this plan.
“For example, under the new proposals, County Kerry has been allowed to stay on its own, which is in a similar situation to Donegal without the added pressure and problem of Brexit.
“Donegal is on a border with a city that has over 120,000 people, in what is technically another jurisdiction.
“Questions have to be asked about why certain counties were allowed to stay on their own but Donegal wasn’t,” he added.
“It only brings further uncertainty to the county.
“Garda management in the county have been lobbying for a number of years to get increase resources into Donegal.
“They work and live in the county and understand what is needed in terms of additional gardaí on the ground, more vehicles and other resources.
“Now, if garda management moves to Sligo, which has been suggested, who is going to take care of the needs of Donegal?
“And what sort of pressure will they be under if they don’t deliver for Sligo or for Leitrim.
“I just think they have put the cart before the horse and now Commissioner (Drew) Harris has suggested he is going to consult with JPCs, the GRA and it is all cart before the horse.
“This should have been done prior to this plan being unveiled,” McMonagle concluded.