‘People can sleep easy’: Stepaside welcomes Garda station news

Ross on hand to receive thanks, as news - but not date - of station reopening gets around

Shane Ross and Cllr Kevin Daly in Stepaside. Photograph:  Mark Hilliard

Shane Ross and Cllr Kevin Daly in Stepaside. Photograph: Mark Hilliard

 

Squeezed onto a narrow traffic island in the middle of Stepaside, Minister for Transport Shane Ross happily waved as cars beeped their horns while passing by.

The local TD was basking in the glory of the official confirmation that the Co Dublin village’s Garda station is reopening, at an as yet unspecified date.

Even though the development in the Minister’s Dublin Rathdown constituency had been expected since March, it was still welcomed in the community where, locals said, burglaries have been a major issue since the station closed in 2013.

“It’s not parish pump [politics] at all; we said the closure of all the Garda stations was wrong,” said a beaming Mr Ross in between acknowledging motorists and shaking hands with constituents.

Together with independent councillor Kevin Daly, the local TD held aloft a large banner proclaiming the imminent return of a permanent Garda presence to the mountain-side village.

Gunpoint robbery

In his bar across the road, publican John McCluskey said it was a much needed development. He was the victim of a gunpoint robbery in his pub’s car park and said he had seen many customers rattled by the station’s closure.

“People were feeling more vulnerable,” he said, in particular some of the elderly regulars who had taken to getting taxis 200m up the road.

One lady had found intruders inside her house three times, he said.

“The likes of her [have been] living in fear.”

Mr McCluskey said “criminality filled the void” left by the closure of the Garda station. Locals, he said, were promised “smart policing” but they feel it never materialised.

Michael Fleming, the local butcher, said he had been robbed and was one of the Stepaside business people pushing for the station’s reinstatement.

“In the last couple of hours the word is out,” he said. “It’s up on social media. There will be a big change in the area, people can sleep easy at night.”

However, not everyone was convinced. Brendan, a 49-year-old lifetime Stepaside resident, refused to join the celebrations as he made his way to the shop.

“It’s just a vote-getter for Mr Ross over there,” he said, with a backward nod to the Minister who was still perched on his traffic island.

“It’s ridiculous; there is no need for it. House break-ins: that’s always going to be there during times of austerity. They [politicians] have no one to blame but themselves on that score.”

Local peace commissioner Bob Gahan (87) insisted crime had become an issue in Stepaside.

“I have been broken into twice; two houses below me broken into four times. Virtually every house around here has been broken into since it [the Garda station] closed,” he said.