A PUSH for increased opening hours for Carrigaline garda station will be raised in the Seanad early in the new year.
That is according to local Independent councillor Ben Dalton O’Sullivan who says the town desperately needs a 24-hour station.
Currently, the station has varied opening hours and is not open at night.
Cllr Dalton O’Sullivan said he has asked Independent senator Gerard Craughwell to raise the matter in the Seanad, after various attempts by Cork County Council to get a response from the Department of Justice and An Garda Siochana about the issue.
He said the opening hours of the station was a big issue on the doorsteps when he was canvassing for the 2019 local elections.
He said he brought the issue to Cork County Council three times, and once to a meeting of the Cork County Joint Policing Committee in September, where decisions were taken to write to the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner.
There has been no response to any of the contacts, prompting Cllr Dalton O’Sullivan to bring the matter to Senator Craughwell, who has previously been active in pushing matters relating to the Defence Forces.
Cllr Dalton O’Sullivan said that while Carrigaline is not a crime hotspot, in June, a teenager was attacked with a glass bottle. An 18-year-old man was jailed for 18 months recently in connection with the attack.
He continued that there is a need for people in the area to have a garda station which is operational by day, ideally between 8am and 8pm.
He added that there are two ministers based in the Carrigaline area – Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.
Fianna Fail’s Cllr Seamus McGrath agrees the station should be open for longer.
“There is certainly room for improvement as it is not open at night. I would certainly be calling for greater opening hours in Carrigaline — even the opening hours during the day are variable.”
He said that having set opening hours would be beneficial for people who need to go to the station to get something done.
“People could be assured that when they go to the station, it would be open.”
He said the town is very large, with a population of around 17,000.
“The port in Ringaskiddy being in the area is totally overlooked, while there are also beaches like Myrtleville in our area which makes it very busy during the summer,” he said. “Anywhere there are beaches have issues unfortunately.”
He acknowledged that there has been an increase in garda numbers in Carrigaline in the past year, with the allocation of one extra sergeant and two extra gardaí.
At the end of November, there were 22 garda personnel attached to Carrigaline station — 19 rank and file members, and three sergeants.
Sinn Féin’s Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire commended garda management for “doing their best to allocate people and improve opening hours”.
He raised the issue of station opening hours in Carrigaline in the Dáil in April 2019.
In response, then-Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, said: “As with all Garda stations which are not open to the public on a full time basis, during periods of closure, telephone calls to that station are automatically routed to the nearest 24 hour station in the District. In cases of emergency, any person can also call the 999 or 112 emergency service for an urgent Garda response.”
“I am informed by the Garda authorities that Carrigaline Garda station is open from 14:00 to 20:00 Monday to Thursday and, subject to the availability of personnel, from 17:00 to 20:00 Friday and Saturday. The station is closed on Sunday. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the station was open for various hours on a total of 229 days in 2018.
Mr Ó Laoghaire said it is important that a station is open when people want to go and make a complaint or avail of any other service.
He said that community policing has been a good policy in Cork city but that at times, the allocation of personnel into community policing led to vacancies on regular units.
“We need to back-fill the positions from where people have been promoted,” he said.
Mr Ó Laoghaire said Cork needs to benefit from further garda allocations in the future, particularly as there has been an issue with provision of gardaí this year, because of the closure of the Garda Training College in Templemore during lockdowns.
This enabled trainee gardaí to join in the garda enforcement operation of Covid-19 public health regulations.
Recently, 200 trainees based in the college have been taken out of the college, to help out with Level Five duties. Also working on the duties are 60 instructors from the Garda College.
In September, when the issue of Carrigaline garda station was raised at a meeting of Cork City and County Joint Policing Committee, members heard the town is unlikely to get a 24-hour station in the short term.
Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin told the meeting that while he would like to see the Carrigaline station open around the clock, it’s only a short distance from the 24-hour station in Togher.
No comment was available from gardaí when contacted.