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Clare Garda Division faces possible merger

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Fear has been expressed that the Clare Garda Division will merge with Galway as part of a restructuring of the Garda organisation across Ireland.

At the beginning of the year, Bellharbour native John Kerin retired as Clare’s Chief Superintendent, concluding forty one year’s service to An Garda Síochána. His position has yet to be filled with no time-frame in place to appoint a successor.

Independent councillor, PJ Ryan at Monday’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee asked, “When is the position of Chief Superintendent going to be filled? And will it be filled?” Superintendent John Galvin who has temporarily taken up the duties of Kerin replied, “I wish I knew the answer, I don’t. The only one that has the gift of appointing a Chief Superintendent is the Commissioner, that’s above my pay grade and always will be”.

Cllr Ryan then queried the “rumours” that the Clare Garda Division would be forced to merge or come under the jurisdiction of a neighbouring county. “We live in a country with rumours, there is nothing definite positively or negatively. At the moment Clare is a Garda Division on its own and that is how it will be for the foreseeable future. If there is a change, we will hear about it,” Supt Galvin stated. Ryan then asked if a timeline was in place for such a move to which Galvin responded, “Absolutely not”.

Newmarket-on-Fergus councillor, Pat McMahon supported the need for Clare to have its own Garda Division. “We need it with Shannon Airport, it is an area of further vulnerability”.

In September 2018, a report from the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland issued a number of recommendations in relation to the structure of the Garda organisation. This included a reduction in the number of Garda divisions (currently at 28) and a flatter management structure with a lower senior management ratio. It also recommended the introduction of a new local policing model with a greater focus on delivering police services at district level and the Division providing administrative and specialist police support such as specialist investigative services and roads policing.

The Commission said that the structure of the organisation is ultimately a matter for the Commissioner. The report and recommendations of the Commission have been accepted by Government and An Garda Síochána.

As part of its 2019 implementation plan, an organisational model is to be developed on how the organisation is structured and functions. A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána told The Clare Echo, “The design phase of this process has begun, but it is not concluded and no final decisions have been made on the structure of the organisation. In addition, An Garda Síochána is due to shortly pilot the local policing model in four divisions; Galway, Mayo, Cork, Kevin Street”.

“Up to until this week the Assistant Commissioner (AC) for the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) was also the AC for Community Engagement, in order to facilitate a full time AC for DMR and a full time AC for Community Engagement the AC for the Southern Region has also taken command for the Western Region as the AC for the Western Region has become the AC for Community Engagement,” the spokesperson added.

Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr Michael Begley has called a special meeting of the local authority to discuss comments made by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. On Wednesday, Harris told the Oireachtas Justice Committee that he couldn’t rule out an amalgamation of the Clare and Galway Garda Divisions.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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