There are fears that a re-examination of garda divisions which is currently underway could have an impact on garda numbers and services in Donegal.
Deputy Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher expressed concern at the possible threat to the Donegal garda division of an amalgamation with another garda division.
The re-examination of all divisions is currently underway by the Garda Authorities and the Government: "Should any amalgamation be considered for Donegal, it almost certainly will lead to a decrease in service and a further garda numbers decline," Deputy Gallagher said.
At present garda numbers within the Donegal division are reduced by 21% from peak garda numbers in 2010 when 466 gardaí were stationed in the county.
"I have on numerous occasions raised the matter of reduced garda numbers with the Department and Minister. At present just over 100 less gardaí currently serve within the Donegal division. Any national plans or Government policy to amalgamate garda divisions must not include Donegal," he said.
He said a precedent exists whereby Donegal stands alone in the context of past Government amalgamations, such as with the former amalgamation of Educational Training Boards (ETB).
"I am calling on the powers that be, to immediately reaffirm that no plans are being considered for the amalgamation of the Donegal Division. I am also calling on the restoration of garda numbers for Donegal and that the full complement of gardaí which in 2009 was 466 officers, as opposed to 397 at the end of 2018," he said.
He said that there gardaí are under resourced in Donegal:"We are working on a skeleton number of garda cars, reduced man hours for important community duties, notwithstanding the growing menace of drugs within our communities," he said.
The Dungloe-based representative said that amalgamations often lead to a decrease in service levels, less availability of the service in question and the further removal from rural communities of services which in urban areas are taken for granted. "We cannot permit the further erosion of garda service levels within the county, it is on a steady decline since 2010, and should an amalgamation be considered then we could experience very serious consequences for rural security and
garda service in our county division," he said.
He called for immediate clarity from the Garda Authorities and Government as to their intentions on this matter and the future of the Donegal Garda Division.
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