RURAL communities up and down the country are justifiably concerned about the imminent closure of many of their garda stations.
This week, residents in Ballymore Eustace and Kill will voice to the move that directly affects them.
Stations will also close in Donard, Hollywood and Balytore.
Garda authorities have framed these closures, and the consequent restructuring and centralisation around such concepts as the ‘clustering of services at policing hubs’ and an ‘enhanced grid patrolling system,’ while still paying lip service to community policing and high visibility.
That may be all well and good, but in reality it provides scant comfort for local communities who are fearful about the message the closures sent.
In many cases, the closure of garda stations leaves people, and particularly elderly people, feeling exposed and vulnerable in their own communities, at a time when rural crime is prevalent, and is a major issue.
The argument can of course be made that the operation of some of these small garda stations is no longer viable, and they are effectively not been manned at any rate.
All that is probably true to an extent, but the effect was at least optical.
And in a lot of cases, these closures will have real impact.
Rural areas deserve and need an adequate level of policing.
It’s unfortunate that this dimunition of services is taking place, at a time when many small communities need them most.