dOUBTS have emerged over the future of Abbeyleix Garda Station with a claim that it to be amalgamated with Portlaoise.
The superintendent in Portlaoise has been covering in Abbeyleix for several months since retirment of Superintendent Maurice Regan. It is now expected that he will not be replaced and the 24-hour station will be run from the Divisional HQ in Portlaoise.
It is not yet known what the impact of this will be for Abbeyleix and the surrounding areas. Speaking to the Leinster Express, Deputy General Secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) John Reynolds said that his association had not been notified of what exactly will be happening, or when it is happening.
“From my understanding the superintendent who has retired from Abbeyleix will not be replaced and the station will operate as is. The Gardaí will still work from there,” he said.
Mr Reynolds said that at the moment it would be hard to assess the impact of this change.
“Abbeyleix at the moment is a district headquarters and will be downgraded to a sub-district headquarters, with no superintendent. The Portlaoise super’s first priority will be Portlaoise and they may not be as familiar with Abbeyleix and the surrounding areas. It could be perceived that they will look after their own patch first,” he claimed.
Mr Reynolds said that the AGSI has no information on whether the station will remain a 24-hour station or not.
“The Government have made this decision and nobody has said exactly what is happening. It is not fair to the residents of Abbeyleix or to the people trying to police the area,” he said.
Cllr John Joe Fennelly said that the change would affect his area.
“I would be very disappointed if services are reduced in the Abbeyleix station. Abbeyleix District covers a huge area heading over towards Carlow and down to the south of the county as well,” he said.
Cllr Fennelly said that he has already raised the matter with Laois County Council and is hoping the matter will be raised at the next joint policing meeting.
“We want to find out exactly what this means for Abbeyleix,” he said.
The Garda press office said all divisional officers have been tasked with conducting an impact assessment on the demands placed on each Garda station within their divisions.
“An Garda Síochána will maintain the current level of service provided to our communities and any restructuring of the Garda station network in these divisions will only arise to deliver greater efficiencies in the deployment of personnel and other resources to the various communities within that division,” said the office.