As almost everyone knows, Department of Justice closed 95 Garda Stations at the end of January, including those in Stradbally and Ballyduff Upper, County Waterford.
During meetings of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee back in late October/early November, I raised the issue of rural policing and the need for the Garda Síochána to better explain their reform proposals.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan spoke to the committee about doing a lot more with less and making the force as efficient and productive as possible, as well as achieving organisational reform.
As I said to him, “there are a lot of challenges in all of that”; though the new rostering system had proven that the force can change effectively.
I stressed to the Commissioner how essential it is that this new policing model is properly explained to the public, particularly to those living in rural areas who are used to having a Garda station in their communities, some of which have already lost town councils, local banks and post offices.
“Naturally they will be very concerned,” I said, adding that, “if the idea is to reorganise in order to effect better policing – and having spoken to the chief superintendent in my area, that seems to be the plan – then that must be presented very carefully and clearly” when the list of stations to close was published.