Tallow taking pro-active approach to keeping their Garda station


Tallow taking pro-active approach to keeping their Garda station

The people of Tallow turned out in large numbers to a public meeting last Wednesday night in a proactive approach to retaining their Garda station in the town.

Saturday, 16 March 2013
12:00 AM GMT

The people of Tallow turned out in large numbers to a public meeting last Wednesday night in a proactive approach to retaining their Garda station in the town.

Over 100 people attended the meeting in the community centre, called by Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch groups from Tallow and surrounding areas.

The consensus was, that despite assurances from the chief superintendent, not having the Garda station in Tallow manned would ultimately end up with it closing. It was noted that the intercom had been removed from Tallow Garda station.

The example of nearby Ballyduff was given and that was backed up by the chairman of Ballyduff Community Council, Paddy Ahearne who said that their station had been downgraded six years ago, after which it reduced to a garda presence of just an hour and a half a day and then effectively closed, before being officially closed at the end of January. He said that while the text alert system was working very well and would be developed further.

"It will only act as a backup to having gardai here for a reasonable number of hours. You need to do all you can to keep it here, history shows that once hours are diminished you're on a slippery slope," he warned. He added however that if they could maintain a garda presence in the station in the town, then the onus reverted to them to use it for garda business and transactions. "Otherwise they'll come back and say it's not being used sufficiently," he pointed out.

The meeting, which was chaired by John Hogan from Ballyduff, president of Muintir na Tire, heard that Lismore is to be the base for gardai with two sergeants and 10 guards stationed there. The sergeant on duty on the day would decide where gardai would be assigned.

"This is not scare mongering, it's not hysteria, we are a very close knit community, that's why we are here," a speaker, representing Knockanore, Glendine and Kilwatermoy Community Alert, said.

Michael O'Keefe, Chairman of Tallow Community Council pledged his group's support saying that local gardai who know people locally are what's needed. The Bank in Tallow was taken away from them but they secured their fire station, "and now we need to do the same with the Garda station."

John Hogan said that Superintendent Michael Leacy, whom he said is doing excellent work in community policing, had assured him that using Lismore as a hub and with a greater presence of patrol cars would work well.

"They have limited manpower and resources available to them at present," he pointed out. He said however that it would have been nice if a senior garda could have attended the meeting.

He then opened it up to the floor where one person said the new Croke Park Agreement would mean gardai retiring before they are 60 to protect their pensions. "How are we going to replace them?" was the question posed. John Hogan said there's going to be a recruitment drive and gardai would also be using modern technology such as GPS in tackling crime.

"Basing gardai in Lismore is downgrading Tallow," one speaker stressed from the floor, to the applause of those attending.

Parish priest of Knockanore, Father Pat Condon, said he fully supported what the community leaders present were doing. "I'd have serious concerns regarding the superintendent's statement," he said. "We need the local link, there is no actual promise of a dedicated garda for Tallow. They'll be moving around. That link is vital for community policing and that's not guaranteed," he pointed out.

Another speaker from the floor said a local garda might see a young lad on the wrong path, or someone with mental health difficulties. "It's not always about crime solving, it's about being there before something happens," he explained, saying "technology won't take the place of local knowledge."

A woman speaker from the floor said it was at night that the gardai are needed, not for a couple of hours during the day. "We're not going to allow the same thing to happen to the garda station as happened to the AIB," she stated. Having two gardai on duty at night to cover an area from Ballyduff to Lismore wasn't sufficient, it was felt.

A representative of Tallow Credit Union said they would be very concerned at any reduction of garda numbers. "We fully support you," he told the community leaders.

Another woman speaker from the floor said there'd been a big increase in crime, particularly burglaries since personnel were reduced. She wondered if the Garda Commissioner was aware of that. "The crime rate has increased dramatically since the garda station closed down at night," she alleged.

Yet another speaker said the meeting was about local peole making their feelings known to area politicians. There were three present, county councillors John Pratt, Declan Doocey and James Tobin. Cllr Tobin pointed out that they had been about to lose their garda presence before when a sergeant was retiring but that they had lobbied for the service to be retained and it was. Both he and Cllr Doocey pledged their support, the latter saying if a delegation wanted to meet Justice Minister Alan Shatter he'd try to organise it. Cllr John Pratt commended everyone for attending, saying they'd agreed not to take the matter lying down.

John Hogan wound the meeting up after putting forward a motion that a four-person deputation seek a meeting with Supt Leacey to discuss their fears and the concerns raised at their meeting. It was agreed that the chairpersons of the three community councils and neighbourhood watch would go and relay back the outcome via another meeting.

A petition was available for those attending on the night to sign.


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