Shameless clientelism evident in re-opening of a Garda station

If proof were needed, Minister Shane Ross supplied it himself by preparing leaflets in advance showing pictures of him in Sandyford housing estates welcoming re-opening

 

The pending decision to reopen Stepaside Garda station cannot be regarded as anything other than a sop to Minister for Transport Shane Ross to keep him in government.

It is being dressed up as the outcome of review that will see six closed Garda stations reopened on a pilot basis to establish if their return will impact on criminal activity. Nobody is in any doubt the decision is part of the price Mr Ross extracted from Fine Gael for his participation in government. If proof were needed, the Minister supplied it himself by preparing leaflets showing pictures of him in Sandyford housing estates welcoming the station’s reopening.

A review of closed Garda stations was included in the deal he concluded with Fine Gael. The programme for government contained a commitment to review the “boundaries of Garda districts and the dispersement of Garda stations in rural areas and in developing urban and suburban areas”. Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has told the Dáil the report on Garda stations would be completed in May with a pilot scheme seeing six Garda stations “both urban and rural” reopening. Political sources suggest Stepaside will certainly be included but it is not yet clear what other stations will get a reprieve. It is a sad commentary on our politics that the survival of the Government depends on the pandering to the constituency demands of an individual TD.

Dublin middle class voters are inclined to poke fun at rural Ireland for electing constituency-focused TDs like the Healy-Raes in Kerry and Michael Lowry in Tipperary but Dublin Rathdown is no different. Mr Ross is working his constituency like a Trojan but his performance as minister has been very disappointing. He would be well advised to devote more of his energy to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

In his former life as a journalist Mr Ross was fierce in his denunciation of all that is allegedly wrong with politics and business. But as a Minister it appears his overriding priority is the reopening of a small Garda station in his constituency.

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