TWO garda stations in Laois are set to be shut under plans announced today by garda headquarters.
The Gardaí have confirmed that Ballacolla and Ballinakill stations are set to close under a national plan announced by the Gardaí to consolidate serivces.
Under the plan two gardaí will transfer to Abbeyleix Garda station which itself was downgraded last year when it came under Portlaoise’s control. Abbeyleix also lost its district, 24-hour status and superintendent.
Up to now the Ballacolla station opened Monday to Friday from 10am-1pm and on alternate Saturday and Sundays. Ballinakill opened Monday to Saturday from 3-5pm but was closed on Sunday.
Under the change Abbeyleix will be the nearest station at 6km while Portlaoise will be the nearest 24-hour station.
The garda could not say when the stations would change saying the timing would be a matter for the Department of Justice.
Speaking at Garda Headquarters today the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said he was committed the best possible policing service.
“The current challenge for An Garda Síochána is to maintain public safety in homes, on streets and in public places while operating in an extremely difficult financial environment. This requires making difficult decisions and hard strategic choices to meet public expectations. As a consequence I am required to continually assess An Garda Síochána’s capability, resilience and effectiveness.
“An Garda Síochána has completed a comprehensive review of its district and station network. The objective of this review was to identify opportunities to introduce strategic reforms to enhance service delivery, increase efficiency and streamline practices within the organisation. The review concluded that a revised District and Station network commensurate with the organisation’s resource base would best meet public demand.
He said the changes were the most fundamental restructuring of An Garda Síochána since the foundation of the organisation.
“I acknowledge that this programme will be challenging for both the public and indeed for my own members of all ranks. However these are challenges we must face together. I am confident that there will be no diminution of service by An Garda Síochána.
“The revised structures will continue to support our community policing philosophy through the clustering of services at policing hubs. The centralisation of services will facilitate the introduction of an enhanced grid patrolling system that will be operational and intelligence led.
He said this patrol system will ensure that a high visibility and community oriented policing service continues to be delivered throughout the country.
The only other change in the Laois Offaly division will see Shannonbridge station close.