Gardai have allayed fears that Skibbereen garda station may be closed or downgraded following a call from the chairman of a Joint Policing Committee (JPC) for a public meeting on the issue.
FF Councillor Donal McCarthy said he was told by a Garda Superintendent there would be changes to the garda station’s opening hours. However, the councillor later realised this might mean lesser opening hours. He said “The JPC committee had concerns that there wasn’t enough gardai on patrol and, when the Superintendent said he was brining out a new rota, we thought it was a good thing because it is, at present, closed for much of the day,’ said Mr McCarthy. ‘It was only later that we realised that this might mean lesser hours or days,’ said Mr McCarthy, who is adamant that Skibbereen needs more garda manpower, particularly at the weekends.
The garda station currently has two sergeants and ten gardai.
Cllr McCarthy said he would be raising the matter at the monthly meeting of Skibbereen Town Council on Thursday 6th February and will ask the Mayor, Adrian Healy, to call a public meeting ‘so the people can have their say.’
Following the confusion however, Superintendent Colm O’Sullivan spoke to ‘The Southern Star’ and clarified the comments made by Cllr McCarthy. He said: ‘The garda station in Skibbereen is not being downgraded. In fact the personnel has increased over the last two years’ – a reference to the fact that two additional guards were appointed to Skibbereen within the last 12 months.
Superintendent O’Sullivan said: ‘It was never suggested that Skibbereen would be downgraded. What was discussed at the Joint Policing Committee was the problem that the station was not open to the public when the public expected it to be open. The proposal is to set fixed opening hours for the garda station in Skibbereen from noon to 5pm every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; and from 3pm to 8pm every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.”
By setting these hours,’ the superintendent said: ‘it will allow people to know exactly when the station will be open and release the gardai to walk the beat in Skibbereen.’
As for suggestions that the rota had been changed, Superintendent O’Sullivan said this is factually incorrect because a new roster system came in as part of the Croke Park Agreement in 2011, and this remains unchanged.
He said: ‘There is no actually change in the rota of the sergeants or guards in the Skibbereen station: the gardai will, as before, work on three rotating shifts from early morning, throughout the day, and through the night.’
The superintendent said he hoped his statement would clarify the situation for people and assured them that they need not have any concerns about the station being downgraded. In fact, he said he hoped they would welcome the news that the station will now have fixed opening hours.
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