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Garda levels set to tumble after surge in early retirees

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Date Published: 10-Sep-2009

Up to 40 Gardaí throughout the city and county will retire this year without any hope of these posts being filled – leading to renewed fears that rural communities will be left “high and dry” in the fight against rural crime.
There are fears that the reduction in numbers could mean that the smaller rural stations would face closure with Gardaí being moved to nearby bigger stations.
And that is a worrying development as particularly in the wake of a spate of rural break ins which have occurred over the past couple of months.
Muintir Na Tire, which promotes community development in rural areas, says that it is a move the organisation would strongly resist.
And Galway East TD Paul Connaughton said that members of the Gardaí are availing of their retirement to avoid any reduction in gratuity benefits in the next Budget.
“In effect what this is doing is removing some of the most experienced Gardaí from the ranks and the cap on recruitment means that the vast majority of them will not be replaced”, he said.
Deputy Connaughton said that parts of rural Galway would become “open territory” for roaming gangs of criminals and any reduction in Garda numbers would send shivers through people living in remote areas.
It is estimated that 20 Gardaí will have retired in Galway city by the end of the year with a further 20 stationed in rural towns and villages opting to avail of their pensions.
Senior Garda sources say that members who are over 50 and have put in 30 years service are now looking towards retirement fearing that the Budget may through up punishing taxation measures for them.
“Many have left already and more are planning their retirement functions . . . and these are members who would have stuck it out for another few years”, a spokesman said.
But according to Deputy Paul Connaughton, it would leave rural County Galway open to attack. “To lose so many Gardaí would equate to the closure of a Garda Station in a major town”, he remarked.
“And worse still is that the people who are leaving are among the most experienced members of the force who have many good years service to give if only they were given assurances”, he added.
He expressed the fear that stations that are operated by a lone Garda would face closure if replacements were not found for the retiring Gardaí.
“I have been informed that more than twice the normal level of retirements is likely to happen this year which would lead to a much depleted number of Gardaí available particularly in rural areas.”
Bernard Kearney, Regional Development Officer for the West with Muintir na Tire said that such a move would be resisted.
However, he said that the organisation had been given assurances by high ranking Gardaí that no rural stations would be closing.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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