Reopening of Stepaside Garda station ‘may never happen’
PAC report critical of decision to reopen station, which followed campaign by Shane Ross
Stepaside Garda Station. Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy told the PAC he would prefer to send extra gardaí to Ballyfermot, Ronanstown and the north and south inner city. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is to publish a report this week which will be critical of the decision to reopen Stepaside Garda station, for which the Minister for Transport Shane Ross has been a long-time campaigner.
In December, the Government announced that Stepaside would be one of six stations reopened before Christmas, a move which followed extensive representations by Mr Ross, whose Dublin Rathdown constituency includes Stepaside village.
However, it is understood the PAC report, which is to be published on Tuesday, will criticise the decision on value for money grounds.
The committee heard evidence from senior gardaí before Christmas who said their preference would be to direct resources elsewhere.
Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy said purely based on policing, he would prefer to send extra gardaí to Ballyfermot, Ronanstown and the north and south inner city before Stepaside. He said Stepaside would not be his number one priority.
Sources say the PAC – which met to discuss its conclusions last Thursday – will strongly endorse the assistant commissioner’s evidence.
Mr Ross has long campaigned publicly and within Government for the reopening of the station, and his website hosts a petition in favour of the move.
However, although the decision has been made in principle, PAC sources who have been briefed on the issue say the reopening of the station “may never happen”.
The committee has been told the Garda is in discussions with the Office of Public Works about Stepaside, but that nothing has as yet been decided.
“The options are renovating the building, acquiring a new building for the station or replacing it with a new Garda station,” said one source.
It is understood that if there is to be a new building, senior gardaí have raised the possibility of locating instead in nearby Cherrywood, which has a rapidly growing population. If that happens, the source said, there will be no question of putting a new station in Stepaside.
Even if the station in Stepaside is to be renovated with a view to reopening, the committee has been told there will have to be detailed architectural assessments carried out by the Office of Public Works.
Mr Ross’s did not respond to a request for comment.