State to sell off 20 vacant Garda stations
Audit will determine if closed stations can be used by community groups
Brian Hayes FG at Leinster House yesterday. PHOTOGRAPH - FRANK MILLER 31.1.01
The State is to begin disposing of Garda stations that have been closed since the rationalisation of the network began in 2011, with the first 20 stations to be put on the market by the summer.
Minister of State Brian Hayes, who is responsible for the Office of Public Works (OPW) which owns the stations, has said all 139 closed stations will first be examined to determine if the State has any use for them or if they could be used by community or voluntary groups.
“Clearly these stations are surplus to requirements and their disposal will make savings for the taxpayer on utilities, maintenance and ongoing security costs,” Mr Hayes said. “The last thing we want to see are former Garda stations in a derelict condition.”
The 139 stations, of an original network of 705, were closed under a plan by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, who believes the size of the network is too large for the Republic.
In 2011 Mr Shatter requested Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan examine the network and identify which stations could be closed.
In December 2011 some 39 closures were announced, with a further 100 station closures outlined 12 months later. All but four have now been closed and further closures have not been ruled out.
The moves have been opposed by many within the Garda and the station closure programme is likely to generate debate at the annual delegate conference in Sligo next week of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.
Mr Hayes said the audit of the vacant stations had already begun in an effort to determine which might be sold and what stations could be put to other State or community use. However, he had “made it quite clear” that the first 20 stations to be sold were to be on the market by summer to generate funds for the State.
“I want to make it clear that where a business case is made on behalf of a local group to take on the responsibility of managing a former station for the benefit of the community, the OPW will seriously consider this request.”
He added submissions would be treated seriously once they came from organisations with a proven track record of providing services to the community. Already about 20 voluntary, community and sports groups had expressed interest in acquiring a closed station.
Some 17 of the stations have communication masts that generate licence fees for the State of about €200,000 annually. It is unclear what arrangements will be made with those mobile phone networks currently renting the masts.