The Garda is paying more than €120,000 annually to rent a full floor of a hotel beside one of the Republic’s busiest Garda stations because the station is too small.
The Department of Justice has revealed the force is now paying €123,000 annually to rent a floor of the Plaza Hotel* next to Tallaght Garda station, west Dublin.
It has been one of the top five busiest stations in the country for the number of crimes reported each year, reaching 5,200 last year. Only the Dublin stations of Pearse Street, Store Street, Blanchardstown and the Bridewell have been busier.
Fianna Fáil criticised the Government over the hotel arrangement put in place for the Garda in Tallaght, saying it was a mark of its failure.
The party’s spokesman on justice Jim O’Callaghan TD said rather than build a badly needed new station in Tallaght, stations in the constituencies of Government Ministers were being prioritised “for electoral purposes”.
Mr O’Callaghan also expressed his concern that the Garda’s confidential and sensitive information and files were being stored in a busy hotel.
“Hotels are now being used by the Government not simply because of its failure to build houses but also because of its failure to develop and resource Garda stations,” he said.
The hotel floor is effectively being used as an overflow facility because Tallaght station, which serves one of the biggest and busiest policing districts in the State, is not big enough.
As far back as 2009 the Garda began renting a modest amount of space in the hotel, which is less than 100m from the Garda station.
However, while initially the hotel was used as a small storage facility for Tallaght gardaí, the amount of space now being rented from the Plaza has grown to a full floor of the facility.
Mr O'Callaghan had asked Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan if the hotel was being used by local gardaí and, if so, how much was being paid.
In his reply, Mr Flanagan confirmed that €122,720 had been paid for the hotel in both 2017 and last year. He added he had “no direct role” in planning where and when new Garda stations should be built.
However, he said a Garda building and refurbishment project, covering the period 2016 to 2021, was currently under way.
“I am informed by the Garda authorities that the programme includes the provision of a property and exhibit store at Tallaght Garda station and that the development of this property storage facility is ongoing in conjunction with the Office of Public Works,” he said.
It was unclear when that storage facility would be constructed and ready for use. There are no plans at present for a new Garda station in Tallaght.
The spending disclosure comes at a time when the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has been calling for long-promised new stations around the country to be provided.
The GRA, which represents about 11,000 rank-and-file gardaí, says conditions in Macroom, Co Cork, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, Newcastlewest, Co Limerick and Sligo town have been unsuitable and dangerous for years.
And while repeated promises had been made to deliver new stations, gardaí based there are still waiting.
*this article was amended on Monday May 27th, 2019