By Diarmaid Doherty
CONCERNS over the future of Milford Garda Station and its staff have been highlighted with one councillor calling on senior gardaí to give assurances on its future.
Cllr Michael McBride said the station is in a vulnerable position and there are major concerns among the local community that it could be downgraded.
Cllr McBride’s comments at Friday’s meeting of the Donegal County Joint Policing Committee came after members also heard major concerns over the lack of policing in rural stations, particularly in the Donegal Gaeltacht.
Committee member James Trearty claimed there are no Garda members attached to the stations at Kerrykeel, Rathmullan, Carrigart, Creeslough, Kilmacrennan, Annagry and Burtonport.
He said the stations at Doochary and Churchill are already closed.
“Previously there were at least four sergeants and probably 22 or 23 Gardaí attached to those stations,” he said.
“Now there’s nobody.”
Mr. Trearty said the fear is that the stations could all eventually be served by the Letterkenny station as part of a ‘centralisation’ plan being implemented by garda authorities.
“Centralisation sounds the death knell for rural communities,” he said.
“If you look at schools, banks, shops, pubs – everything is closing in the rural areas. I would hate to think that the Gardaí are going down the same road.”
He added: “I was born in the Gaeltacht. I am living in the Gaeltacht and I’m very concerned about policing in the Gaeltacht as the current model seems to be centralisation.”
His comments were swiftly dismissed by Chief Superintendent Aidan Glackin who said that whatever operating model is in place for the county, it did not include ‘centralisation’ plans.
“There are no intentions to close any garda stations in Donegal and it’s certainly not my intention,” he said.
Cllr McBride highlighted the situation in Milford, a town which he said had over the years lost McMahon’s Garage, Milford Bakery and two banks.
“You could go right down the line,” he said.
“It has lost businesses left, right and centre.
“It was a hub of activity a number of years ago and the Garda Station in Milford was central to the activity in the town. There is a great concern locally about what is going to happen to Milford Garda Station and what is going to happen to the people who are working in the Garda Station.
“Are they going to be redeployed? Are the services in Milford going to be downgraded?”