THE lack of garda manpower has meant that posts at both Drinagh and Durrus garda stations remain unfilled, while a sergeant post in Ballyvourney has remained vacant for the past three years due to difficulties in hiring an Irish speaker.
At this week’s meeting of the Cork County Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Chief Supt Vincent O’Sullivan of the newly-created Cork County Division, admitted that the force is far short of having the desired 900 personnel to cover the division, when outlining the new garda operational model.
‘We are not anywhere near that at the moment, but we are recruiting and we are trying to increase our numbers,’ he told attendees.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) called for the vacancy at Drinagh Garda Station to be filled as soon as possible, following the retirement of a garda last year.
‘Locals in Drinagh are very proud of their area. It’s also the centre base of one of the strongest co-ops in West Cork and there’s a lot of machinery there. The presence of a garda is needed there,’ said Cllr Carroll.
‘If these travelling gangs that target the countryside got wind that there was no garda station, they could be down.’
Cllr Karen Coakley (Ind) said that Drinagh is in the centre of a large area with a lot of traffic passing through.
‘There’s a lot of criminals going to be passing through and when they hear of an empty garda station, then that’s where we have a problem. I’m asking for this to be prioritised.’
Chief Supt O’Sullivan said he is very anxious to fill the post at Drinagh but they don’t have enough members to put one in there currently.
‘We had advertised it and we have looked for expressions of interest. We have identified gardaí who want to go there and as soon as I have members freed up, then a garda will be appointed there.’
Danny Crowley, a community representative from the PPN (public participation networks) also raised the issue of Durrus Garda Station, which doesn’t have a serving garda either.
‘Our last garda, Gda Dowling, retired in the New Year and people in Durrus want to know when a new garda is be appointed,’ he asked.
Chief Supt O’Sullivan said they are also sending out for expressions of interest for that position and they hope to fill it as soon as a suitable person is identified.
Meanwhile, FF Deputy Aindrias Moynihan queried about the appointment of a Irish-speaking sergeant for Ballyvourney Garda Station, which has been vacant for three years, as well as pointing out a vacancy at Coachford Garda Station.
‘Promotions were made last year and we had expected that the role would have been advanced at that stage.
‘The Garda Commissioner was adamant that the gardaí would be serving Gaeltacht areas,’ said Deputy Moynihan.
‘Can we get that appointment moving in the next round?’ he asked.
Chief Supt O’Sullivan said that any sergeant being appointed in Ballyvourney has to be proficient in Irish.
‘It was advertised, expressions of interest were sent out, but none of the candidates had the Irish proficiency to take up the post, while those sergeants who had it didn’t apply for the position,’ he outlined.
Chief Supt O’Sullivan said they hope to advertise the position again in May and expect the position to be filled by June.
A sergeant in Macroom is covering the area in the interim.