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Garda re-organisation will see top brass under fire at meeting

The public is expected to vent frustration about the recent re-organisation of An Garda Síochána in Galway at an open policing meeting next week.

The first public meeting of the County Galway Joint Policing Committee (JPC) since 2019 will take place in Claregalway Hotel at 7pm on Monday next, November 14.

Public meetings planned for 2020 and 2021 did not proceed due to Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions.

Chairman of the JPC, Galway County Councillor Jim Cuddy (Ind) said the latest annual public meeting affords people an opportunity to highlight issues of concern in their local area in relation to crime.

Senior Gardaí will be on hand to answer questions, as will other members of the JPC including County Councillors and management of Galway County Council.

Cllr Cuddy said the reorganisation of Galway Garda Division could be a hot topic up for discussion on the night.

“The new policing model is a very contentious issue. It will be one of the lively topics that will come up. With the feedback I’m getting, I know no-one who is happy with it,” he said.

The re-organisation came into force in September with County Galway split into three ‘Community Engagement Areas’; one in Galway City, one in Galway County East and one in Galway County West.

The Superintendent for County West is based in Oranmore Garda Station, and is responsible for all of Connemara, which until recently was led from Salthill. The chairman of the JPC, Cllr Jim Cuddy said the public was not happy with it.

“Under the new model there is no Superintendent in Connemara anymore, where we had two in the past. The Superintendent for Connemara is based in Oranmore. There’s another Superintendent in Ballinasloe. Up to some years ago, you had a Superintendent in Clifden and one in Oughterard. You’ll have none there now. You’ve an Inspector in An Cheathrú Rua now.

“In East Galway, you have a Superintendent in Ballinasloe and an Inspector in Tuam and they will be expected to cover from Ballinasloe in as far as Monivea, and from Portumna across to Headford, which is a vast area.

“The Superintendent in Oranmore will cover Oranmore, Athenry, Claregalway, Lackagh, Corrandulla, Annaghdown on this side of the city, and all of Connemara as well.

“There’s been a vast reduction of manpower in rural Ireland in recent years. It’s only a few short years ago we had 26 Gardaí in the Connemara area, we have twelve now. The Garda authorities don’t seem to appreciate that or acknowledge that. They seem to think this will provide a better service, I cannot see the logic of that,” added Cllr Cuddy.

He said that the problem of drugs and Garda visibility in rural areas are among the topics that the public may raise from the floor at Monday’s meeting.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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