THE Department of Justice has responded to concerns over whether a Northside Garda station can provide effective cover for Dublin Airport after its opening hours were slashed.
Santry Garda Station will now operate on reduced hours under cost-saving plans announced by Justice Minister Alan Shatter earlier this month.
The station, which is currently opened on a 24-hour basis, responds and provides extra policing for the airport when necessary, which has sparked concern among some local politicians such as Deputy Dessie Ellis (SF).
“The closure of Whitehall Garda Station and the cut to Santry station is effectively a vote of no confidence in the area,” he told Northside People.
“You’d have to question the merit in cutting the operational hours of Santry Garda Station when it is the station to respond to any policing requirements at the airport.
“Just how effective can it be in its policing response when the station is closed during the night?”
However, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice allayed fears by explaining that the only change with Santry Garda Station would be in relation to the public counter, which will close from 10pm to 8am.
“The station will be fully operational otherwise and it will mean that instead of having a Garda and a sergeant to man the station, there will be extra bodies to go on the beat and out in the car,” said the spokesperson.
“In fact, it will be a better situation in some respects as the station will still be in operation apart from the closure of the public office which will allow for the gardai to provide a better service.”
Included in the cuts to policing in Dublin is the planned closure of Rush, Dalkey and Harcourt Terrace Garda stations.
Reductions in public opening hours are also planned for stations such as Cabra, Malahide, Howth and Donnybrook.
On announcing the cuts to policing resources, Minister Shatter said his department had to contribute to the overall reduction in public expenditure.
He said the closures came as part of a wider review of the justice sector and argued that modern policing did not require “a bricks and mortar presence in every locality”.
"We currently have 703 Garda stations, 47 of which are in Dublin,” he stated.
“An Garda Síochána, like all public service agencies, must introduce new efficiencies so as to make the best possible use of available resources. This will mean focusing resources on frontline operational services.
“In some cases it will mean using a different model for delivering a policing service to a local community, through a rationalisation of Garda stations and revised patterns of patrols.”
The Minister also justified the reduction of opening hours for some Garda stations, which will come into place in 2012.
“Instead of having gardaí behind the public counter in these stations at night, when there is little demand for that service, this will free-up those gardaí for frontline operational duties in these areas,” he stated.
“This is an example of making better use of resources by implementing long-promised reforms.”