Eight Garda stations ‘downgraded’ but what does it mean?

Opposition likely to grow as impact of Garda reorganisation on stations becomes clear

Under the new plans set out by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to reorganise the force, the number of Garda regions is being reduced from six to four, and the number Garda divisions is being reduced from 28 to 19.

It inevitably means some Garda stations that have been divisional headquarters for years can no longer retain that status.

The stations that lose their status as divisional headquarters are: Roscommon, Sligo, Monaghan, Navan, Naas, Bray and Thurles. Kilkenny also loses its status as divisional headquarters but it is the regional headquarters and so retains a chief superintendent.

Mr Harris believes the current structure of the Garda force is too complex; broken into too many areas that are too small to be effective policing units.

He says each enlarged division will have sufficient scale to have its own units for specialist crime investigation; in areas such as sex crimes, fraud and so on.

Each division will also be run by a chief superintendent who will have the autonomy to set policing priorities and targets in their division.

Mr Harris believes it is irrelevant which Garda stations remain as divisional headquarters. He says because more Garda members and more civilian staff are being recruited there will be more front-line gardaí in every part of the country in coming years.

However, there is still likely to be opposition to some Garda stations effectively losing their status as divisional headquarters. People will fear a loss of policing resources from those stations.

So what exactly are the Garda station changes announced by Mr Harris?

North Western Region

The regional headquarters will be in Murrough, Co Galway. However, a regional chief superintendent will be based in Monaghan station despite the fact that the station is no longer a divisional headquarters. This is being done to maintain continuity at the Border during the Brexit period. In the Galway division, Murrough is the divisional headquarters as well as the headquarters for the region.

In the Mayo-Roscommon-Longford division, Castlebar in Co Mayo is the divisional headquarters. That means the Garda station in Roscommon town, which had been the headquarters for the Roscommon-Longford division, is no longer a divisional headquarters.

In the new enlarged Donegal-Sligo-Leitrim division, Letterkenny in Co Donegal is the divisional headquarters. The station in Sligo town is downgraded from divisional headquarters status.

In the Cavan-Monaghan-Louth division it is Drogheda in Co Louth that is divisional headquarters. Monaghan town loses its status as divisional headquarters.

Eastern Region

The regional headquarters will be in Kilkenny city station and the regional chief superintendent will also be based in that station. However, Kilkenny station has been the divisional headquarters for the Carlow-Kilkenny division. That division now becomes the Waterford-Kilkenny-Carlow division and Waterford city station is the divisional headquarters.

The Meath and Westmeath divisions are merged into Meath-Westmeath and Mullingar is the divisional headquarters. That means Navan Garda station, which had been divisional headquarters for Meath, loses that status.

The two divisions of Laois-Offaly and Kildare are merged into one; Laois-Offaly-Kildare, with Portlaoise as divisional headquarters. That means Naas, which had been the headquarters of the Kildare division, loses its status.

The divisions of Wexford and Wicklow are merged into one division with Wexford Garda station as its divisional headquarters. That results in a downgrading of Bray station, which had been the Wicklow division headquarters.

Southern Region

The regional headquarters is Anglesea Street in Cork city and the regional chief superintendent will also be based there. Anglesea Street is also the headquarters for the Cork city division.

The Cork county division headquarters will be in Bandon until the new station at Macroom is built. In the Kerry division Tralee is the headquarters and the Limerick division Henry Street station in the city is the divisional headquarters.

The Clare and Tipperary divisions are amalgamated into one with Ennis in Co Clare as the divisional headquarters. It means Thurles, which had been the divisional headquarters for the Tipperary division, loses its status; the only station to lose out in that way in the Southern region.

Dublin Metropolitan Region

Dublin is effectively unchanged though it gains a chief superintendent for the Dublin region.

There remain six divisions in Dublin, each with the same divisional headquarters as before: DMR North's headquarters is Ballymun; DMR South's is Crumlin; DMR North Central's is Store Street, DMR South Central's is Kevin Street, DMR East's is Dún Laoghaire; and DMR West's is Blanchardstown.