Gardaí working from Portakabins following station closures
GRA delegates hear calls for stronger legislation to create a special offence of attacking an emergency or frontline worker such as a garda
Garda Ultan Sherlock told the GRA conference that he and his colleagues routinely worked shifts at unsocial hours and this underlined the need for basic catering facilities at Garda stations. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Gardaí are working from Portakabins in some parts of the country because proper plans were never put in place when Garda stations were being closed earlier this year and last year, a Garda conference has heard.
Delegates at the closing session of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) annual conference in Westport, Co Mayo, heard members of the force could not understand why accommodation was not improved and expanded in the stations that remain open before the near 140 stations that have been closed were taken out of service.
Garda Ultan Sherlock, who moved to Dundrum Garda station in Dublin after his base at Stepaside was closed, said the Dublin metropolitan east division has lost three stations without proper planning to deal with the logistical impact of so many gardaí being moved around. “The latest station, Kill o’ the Grange, closed last week. This has caused a huge accommodation problem in the division . . . we can’t figure [it] out.
“Cabinteely station is in a dilapidated condition. Yet there is a Portakabin after going in the back to accommodate members from Kill o’ the Grange. Dún Laoghaire station, which is already overrun, is expecting a Portakabin in a couple of weeks to alleviate accommodation problems.
“Dundrum station, while the first part of the project was built, the rest is in a dire state. We can’t understand why Stepaside wasn’t kept open until Dundrum was built and proper accommodation for workers in the guards were there.”
Garda Sherlock said he and his colleagues routinely worked shifts at unsocial hours and this underlined the need for basic catering facilities at stations. He said while there had been station closure programmes in other countries, this was done only when facilities were improved in those stations earmarked to accommodate police officers forced by closures to move stations.
The GRA delegates also heard calls for stronger legislation to create a special offence of attacking an emergency or frontline worker such as a garda. The appeal was made by Garda Jeffrey White, based at Kevin Street Station in Dublin, who was slashed in the face with a broken bottle in 2006 and required 30 stitches to his face.
“I for one consider myself to be lucky; lucky in the sense that I escaped with my life as a result of a violent altercation when I was acting in the course of my duty serving the people of this State,” he told delegates.
“There is not a day goes by that I don’t think about the night I was attacked – the fear, the fright, the risk, the ‘what if’?
“It should now be a priority that legislation is introduced to provide protection for frontline emergency workers.
“I am committed to providing the best possible service to the public I serve. It is now time for action – enough is enough. Legislation is what I want because it’s not sufficient at the moment to protect me.”