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*Gardaí on duty outside The Wild Atlantic Break Café in Doonbeg. Photograph: Martin Connolly

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Imagine 2202

An upcoming amalgamation of the Clare and Tipperary Garda Divisions is causing fear in the north western part of the county, Fianna Fáil’s Rita McInerney has claimed.

A General Election candidate for the party, McInerney told The Clare Echo that the new policing model outlined by Commissioner Drew Harris in the past fortnight has not been met with open arms.

In particular, she is concerned Kilrush will be left without a Superintendent as a result of the Division merging in the next year. “I am very worried by these changes. They risk diluting policing services, particularly in rural areas of Clare. Communities are particularly fearful about the prospect of Kilrush losing its Superintendent, while this has not been confirmed, the lack of detail and information available is creating anxiety across the county. The loss of the Superintendent in Kilrush would be devastating, as it caters for all of north Clare, while Ennistymon doesn’t even have a 24-hour Garda Station. There are also major issues with resources in the county – with major gaps in the provision of training, equipment and vehicles.

“It looks likely that if the new Division goes ahead in the proposed format the Divisional HQ could be based in Tipperary. In my view there is a possibility that this may entirely alienate Clare which I fear could end up being an afterthought for any Superintendent overseeing the area. While I welcome the addition of 1,000 front line Gardaí for Community Policing, I would like to see more detail as to where these Gardaí will be stationed, and whether rural parts of the country are sufficiently catered for,” the Doonbeg woman stated.

McInerney confirmed she would liaise with members of An Garda Síochána locally to get their opinions on the changes. “We need to ensure we have a robust Garda force, particularly given the uncertainty of Brexit and threat of rural crime. Rural Garda Stations have been closed down. Now, this amalgamation of Divisions will be looked upon cynically as another attempt to reduce costs. Any costs saved should be reinvested into frontline Garda services in our area”.

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