POLICING in Laois and Offaly is being overseen from Kildare as a result of the Government’s failure to replace retired gardai, while it also looks certain that Abbeyleix Garda Station is set to be downgraded with the loss of its Superintendent.
As of this week there was no Chief Superintendent in the division. Chief Supt Frank Moore retired last week and Chief Supt Michael Burns of the busy Kildare Division has been tasked with running the show while two Government Ministers deliberate on a replacement.
Apart from the void at the top, further vacancies have also arisen in Laois. Supterintendent Philip Lyons also retired last Friday and Inspector John Nolan has moved to the Phoenix Park.
This has meant that Inspector Martin Harrington is just the one garda of senior rank left in Laois. Last week a Superintendent had to be drafted in from Offaly to prosecuting cases at Portlaoise District Court.
It is also understood that there is now just one Detective of Sergeant rank left in Laois. Portlaoise has also lost a sergeant to Mountmellick because resources were not available to replace a retiring sergeant.
Garda HQ in Dublin said the replacement of Garda Officers remains “under review”.
The Department of Justice said the allocation of resources within the Gardai is a matter for the Garda Commissioner.
It said the filling of future vacancies will be the subject of discussions between the Minister for Justice (Alan Shatter) the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Brendan Howlin).
Deputy Sean Fleming said the vacancies had been well flagged. He said senior gardai were important for policing crime.
“It is not good enough that a superintendent from a neighbouring division is in his spare time trying to cover the division. The postion needs to be filled this week,” he said.
Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan understood that there was concern, but expected the posts to replaced. He said he has been in contact with Minister Shatter who visited Laois in the past fortnight.
“While I regret that the Minister did not get a chance to sit down with senior garda personnel, he is fully aware of the situation and I believe these appointments will be made very shortly,” he said.
“The situation with Abbeyleix is that Laois will be run by the Portlaoise District. I don’t envisage that a superintendent will be appointed to Abbeyleix”, he said.
He said he was confident that Laois would be “adequately and properly” policed through a combination of garda stations, cars and an elite corps in Portlaoise.
He said there should be a roster of patrols to cover areas including, Durrow, Ballinakill and Luggacurren. Deputy Flanagan added that 40 new cars were on the way nationally.