THE closure of seven garda stations in West Cork resulted in a total saving of just €28,000 a year, a Sinn Fein election candidate has claimed.
Cllr Rachel McCarthy said that Fine Gael and Labour have put communities in West Cork ‘at risk’ to achieve ‘a meagre saving’ of €28,000 a year.
‘Over a two-year period (2012-2013), the government closed seven garda stations across West Cork but only achieved a saving of €4,000 per annum on each closure,’ the election candidate said this week.
The information was contained in an answer provided by the Minister For Justice in response to a Parliamentary Question submitted by Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson, Padráig MacLochlainn TD.
The Minister’s reply stated that an average of €4,000 a year per garda station was saved by the closure of 139 garda stations. The national saving amounted to €556,000.
‘In West Cork, we have seen garda stations closed in Castletownshend, Ballygurteen, Ballyfeard, Goleen, Inchigeela, Ballinspittle, and Adrigole,’ said Cllr McCarthy. And she called for garda numbers to be increased over the safe threshold of 14,000, saying it must be a priority in the forthcoming budget.
‘I find it infuriating that the government would cut garda resources in such a vicious manner but it beggars belief that they have put communities in West Cork at risk for a paltry saving of €28,000. Even those who consider themselves to be fiscally conservative would have a hard time justifying this one. Fine Gael and the Labour Party have stripped the people of West Cork of their sense of safety and security for a pittance,’ she said.
Meanwhile, Cork South-West Fianna Fáil election candidate Margaret Murphy O’Mahony claimed that communities across West Cork are suffering an ongoing wave of burglaries and increased anti-social behaviour in some parts of the county.
The Cllr said: ‘Under Fine Gael and Labour five garda stations have been closed in the Cork South-West constituency over the last four years. The garda stations in Castletownshend and Ballygurteen in the Clonakilty district and Goleen in the Bantry garda district were closed in 2012. The Government then closed the Adrigole station in the Bantry district and Ballinspittle garda station in Bandon in 2013. These closures left families more vulnerable to burglars and took gardaí out of the towns, reducing visibility dramatically.’
In response, Chief Supt Tom Hayes of the West Cork Division said there was no added risk to people in West Cork. ‘In fact, the figures for West Cork show a decrease in property crime and, in particular, in burglary. Though I would still encourage the communities to work together with the gardai and make full use of the community schemes,’ he added.