Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, on a brief visit to Co. Roscommon on Monday, paid tribute to the work of Gardaí in the community but ruled out the reopening of Garda stations in the county. The Minister spoke to the media at The Hub in Castlerea following a visit to Castlerea Garda Station.
While ruling out the possibility of reopening a number of Garda stations, Minister Flanagan did moot the refurbishment of Ballinlough Garda Station and Roscommon Courthouse.
“I’m very pleased to see state-of-the-art and modern facilities in Castlerea. I would like to see the refurbishment of Ballinlough at the earliest opportunity.
“I understand there’s the issue of Tarmonbarry that has been raised by Senator Maura Hopkins and Senator Frank Feighan and we are exploring possibilities to see how best that part of the county can be served. It’s a busy road through Tarmonbarry, I know the station has been closed.
“I am not in a position to make any firm announcement but I’m conscious of the need as are the Gardaí to ensure that every area of Co. Roscommon is policed to the full”.
Regarding the facilities at Roscommon Courthouse, Minister Flanagan said it would be considered under the next phase of spending.
“We are currently at the end of a spending phase where €100 million has been spent on courts. I will be inaugurating the next phase towards the end of this year and, in conjunction with the court services, we will be carefully looking at the matter of Roscommon.
“I agree that it’s totally unacceptable to have lack of privacy, to have people who are oftentimes fearful and even sometimes intimated going to court in the first place. We owe it to the general public to have court facilities which are user friendly, cater for vulnerable witnesses; cater for children, and which have technological advances introduced.
“I would be happy to engage further locally with Senator Hopkins ensuring that Roscommon Court is among those for consideration”.
The Minister added that visibility and availability were two key issues when it came to deployment of Gardaí in the Roscommon Longford district.
“I’m pleased to note that there has been a doubling of Gardaí from 46 in 2011 to 94 in 2018. I’m keen to ensure that these numbers increase further.
“This is a large rural area with unique circumstances having a prison in a rural setting. I’m conscious that the prison plays a role here in terms of Garda attention”.
The Justice Minister also highlighted the “national problem” of criminal gangs using the motorway network to perpetrate crime but said that measures would be rolled out to tackle this issue.
“I’m told by the Gardaí here that many of those who perpetrate crime here are not from the area. This is a national problem where our rapid motorway network has at times facilitated visiting criminals who are up to no good.
“I’m anxious to assist with the roll-out of cameras and detection facilities and also having checkpoints nearer the major urban centres where these criminals are coming from”.