A future merger between Garda Divisions in Clare and Galway has not been ruled out.
Concerns on whether the county Garda Division would join forces with neighbouring Galway still remain following a special meeting of Clare County Council on Monday. Assistant Commissioner, Anne Marie McMahon outlined that the Commission on the Future of Policing would have a significant input on whether a future merger would occur.
Mayor of Ennis, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy admitted, “I haven’t had the time to read the CPI report that you mentioned” and she asked, “Can you clarify that the Clare and Galway merger is a non runner”. “The commission for future policing report is the future, work is ongoing as to what that will look like, the important thing to say is the focus is on the service and providing the best possible service with the structures that will give it best effect. We’ll actually have more guards out and about on the streets. What happens into the future I cannot tell you I don’t have a crystal ball only to say the focus is on community policing,” the former Director of Training at the Garda college stated.
As the 45 minute meeting progressed, Fine Gael’s Pat Burke became frustrated that no definitive answer had been given. “We’re leaving here still not clear, what is the time frame for the outcome of the report,” he questioned.
A native of Kilmurry McMahon, Anne Marie informed elected representatives that no discussion has taken place on pooling Clare together with Galway. “There has been no conversation about amalgamating Clare and Galway, that has not been determined. It will take up until the least of the year to crystallise and finalise the report, the important thing we take from today is all about service and improving it”.
Having had some time to scan through some of the report’s contents, Cllr Colleran Molloy noted “it is a very extensive report. Is it a recommendation that both Divisions be amalgamated”. McMahon responded, “The recommendation that would impact on Clare and Galway as you put it is improving the structure, that might mean a bigger division with greater services. It’s up for the Commissioner and his team to come up with best possible service”.
“There is no imminent change but the potential for change”, Colleran Molloy asked, “None of us know what the future will bring, it is around more efficient and more community focused policing. That’s the focus,” Anne Marie said. Fianna Fáil’s Pat Hayes added, “We as a Council want to retain that service, we want to maintain that independence. We are the Banner County and we would like to retain that service”.
“Thank you for showing your respect for your native county by being here”, Council CEO Pat Dowling said to the Assistant Commissioner for the Southern Region. “A strong relationship between Clare County Council & An Garda Síochána can achieve a multitude of things for Clare”, he stated.
Clare TD, Dr. Michael Harty maintained the people of his constituency were “entitled to be deeply sceptical” regarding a future merger. “To be fair to Commissioner Drew Harris, we need to hear a lot more about his plans before reaching a definitive conclusion. At the same time, I hear alarm bells ringing,” the Independent TD told The Clare Echo.