There are fears that Bantry will be left without a garda superintendent as part of a re-organisation of garda divisions nationwide which is causing concern among top ranking members, reports Kieran O’Mahony
THERE are real fears that the Bantry region could be without a superintendent, following the transfer of Supt Ronan Kenneally to the Cork City division as part of a new operational policing model in the past fortnight.
The Garda Press Office confirmed the transfer of Supt Kenneally, but no replacement has been appointed yet, and it is believed that under the new operational model a superintendent may not be appointed to Bantry.
There are concerns that this could be backward step for policing in the Bantry area, which has had several major drug seizures in in recent years and the area also includes the busy port of Castletownbere.
The Garda Press Office told The Southern Star that An Garda Síochána does not comment on ‘future or proposed’ promotions or allocations of superintendents.
‘The Garda transformation programme A Policing Service for our Future provides for a new garda operating model.
As part of that model An Garda Síochána has previously announced the reduction of garda divisions from 28 to 19, including the merger of the Cork West and Cork North Divisions,’ a spokesperson said.
‘Due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19 pandemic, the revised roll out of the operating model continues to primarily focus on the establishment of the business services functional area, led by an assistant principal, in each of the 19 new divisions.’
According to the Garda Press Office, these business services functions are focused on creating efficiencies in administrative processes in areas such as HR, finance and logistics and general administration.
Cork-city based Sgt Alan Cronin, vice president of Agsi (Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors) and a national executive member for Munster, said that under the new policing model, superintendents will be divided up, according to community engagement areas.
‘A superintendent could be covering Bandon and Bantry but all of that hasn’t been teased out yet.
‘I can’t say for sure if Supt Kenneally in Bantry will be replaced,’ he said.
Sgt Cronin has also indicated his members’ concerns about the amalgamation of both the Cork West and Cork North division into one single division.
‘It’s a huge geographical area and we would have concerns about how we are to police such a big area.
‘From Allihies in West Cork over to Youghal Bridge is over 200km, it’s the same distance between Cork and Kildare,’ said Sgt Cronin.
‘We just don’t know how it’s going to work out, but we believe that it’s not as imminent as we thought originally and it may not happen for another year.
‘Some parts of it have started but nothing that would affect the public,’ he added.
Chief Supt Con Cadogan of the Cork West Division recently took charge of the Cork North Division, ahead of the two divisions being amalgamated.
Sgt Cronin said they are still unsure as to where the scenes-of-crime staff will be based in this new division.
However, he cited that some journeys could take hours depending on where they are based.
‘There are two divisional protective services units, one in Dunmanway and one in Fermoy but they won’t be amalgamated.
‘Yet, you will have one inspector covering both, which is a huge area.’
Sgt Cronin added that at least this new Cork division is in one county, compared to the proposal to merge Clare and Tipperary.
MACROOM WILL BE DIVISIONAL HQ
The new divisional HQ will be based out of Macroom, but until the construction of the new building is complete,
Bandon Garda Station will serve as an ‘interim’ HQ.
Last March, the Commissioners of Public Works approved planning permission for the building of the new station. Both the GRA and local public representatives had been calling for a new station for the town as it has been described as ‘not fit for purpose’ for some time.
The proposed scheme involves the construction of a 4,338 sq m garda divisional HQ building on a site of circa 0.68 hectares. It will see the development of a two, three and four-storey building with three standalone single-storey ancillary buildings, while the accommodation of the main building includes a public office, staff offices, conference facilities, staff support facilities, custody areas, plant and associated ancillary spaces.
‘The new HQ will provide the gardaí with a wide variety of modern support facilities for 21st century policing, as well as providing the community with a modern and accessible garda station,’ said an OPW spokesperson.
The building will be designed to achieve near zero energy building compliance and will achieve a building energy rating of A2. Accessibility and safety for staff is addressed by the secure parking area and the building will have considered landscaping on the site.