Stepaside Garda station will not be open 24/7, says Harris

Commissioner says gardaí will, however, ‘come and go’ from Stepaside around the clock

Stepaside Garda station in south Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Stepaside Garda station in south Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Dublin’s Stepaside Garda station will not be open to the public on a 24-7 basis, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris told an Oireachtas committee on Wednesday.

Mr Harris said, while there would be activity at the station around the clock seven days a week, that was because some of the Garda’s roads policing function would be based in Stepaside and Garda members involved in roads policing could “come and go” from the station at any hour.

He said he had directed that this should happen on a 24-7 basis but that there would not be a public facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

He was responding to questions from Jack Chambers TD (FF) after Minister for Transport and local TD Shane Ross told constituents the station would be “operating 24/7”.

Mr Ross ran an electoral campaign to have the station re-opened after it was closed with others around the Republic as a result of austerity and recession.

In recent days, Mr Ross made public statements saying the station would be operational 24-7 after its scheduled reopening next month.

In a message to constituents last Friday, the Minister wrote: “Following erroneous reports that Stepaside Garda Station will only be operating during limited hours, I have today received good news from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

“He informed me that the Gardaí based in Stepaside will be operating 24/7, once the station is reopened. The public office will, naturally enough, have limited opening hours in order to process routine day-to-day business such as stamping application forms etc. Those hours have not yet been decided.”

The Garda Commissioner told the committee: “There will be a front desk available during the day, during office hours.

“I don’t envisage that it’s going to be a 24-7 station. It’s going to be 24-7 operational; roads policing vehicles going backwards and forwards.”

Under the arrangement, roads policing gardaí will not be attached to Stepaside station. Instead, they will be attached to Garda Roads Policing Bureau in Dublin city and will have no involvement in the day to day policing of Stepaside.

Overtime pay

On the issue of Garda overtime, Mr Harris said about 20 per cent of the budget was now being used to pay gardaí overtime for the 15 minute briefing they received before their shifts.

That payment was part of a pay deal negotiated three years ago after gardaí withdrew their services – in a strike in all but name – over four 24-hour periods.

A further estimated 25 per cent of the overtime budget was being used to fund “ancillary services” such as gardaí attending courts and providing escorts for prisoners.

Mr Harris told the committee he envisaged these tasks would be taken on by other agencies – for example, the Courts Service and Irish Prison Service – in the years ahead.

He added negotiations were continuing with the Government on meeting the policing costs of the visits of the US president Donald Trump and US vice president Mike Pence in recent months.