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Adjournment Debate. - Blanchardstown (Dublin) Garda Station.

Wednesday, 28 February 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 462 No. 3

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Mr. Lawlor: Information on Liam Lawlor Zoom on Liam Lawlor I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing me to raise this matter on the Adjournment. I compliment the Minister for Justice on her recent announcement that a new Garda station will be built in Blanchardstown — there is nothing like a hanging to focus the mind. That decision was as a result of the local gardaí taking the unusual step of seeking a meeting with their local Deputies. Gardaí do not get involved in politics, they stay well away from politicians as they go about their business. However, the frustration of the gardaí in Blanchardstown led to them taking this unusual step of approaching their local Deputies.

The Ministers of State, Deputies Currie and Burton, Senator McGennis and other public representatives attended that meeting. The decision to provide a new Garda station was taken when local gardaí proposed not to report for duty in the station on 1 March.

The announcement to build a new station was welcomed. I met some of the gardaí concerned and informed them of the decision. I communicated with the Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works on this matter. The Minister of State, Deputy Currie should ensure that the gardaí who postponed their protest to May pending progress on the building of that station, [934] will have their appeal listened to. I hope he can confirm that the sketch drawings, which the Department of Justice recently promised to supply to the Garda representative body, will be available in April, that detailed architects' drawings will be completed by the end of May, that tender documentation will be circulated and tenders sought by June or July and that a contract will be placed in September to enable work commence on the construction of this urgently needed facility in the second half of 1996.

The condition of the local station is deplorable. The station does not adequately meet the needs of the 50,000 to 70,000 population in the greater Blanchardstown area. It consists of an old private house in the main street which accommodated ten to 20 gardaí many years ago, but many more gardaí are based there. Local gardaí whom I met last Monday told me there is talk of the Office of Public Works locating a social welfare office on the restricted site selected for the new station. They told me that section 41 of the relevant legislation provides for the allocation of a substantial car park compound. I hope the Office of Public Works does not intend to locate a social welfare office there on the cheap. It would be undesirable to locate such a public office alongside the new Garda station and that site would not be suitable for it.

Before the Minister of State, Deputy Currie, had the honour of representing Dublin West the Garda station in Lucan was renovated and a Garda station was provided in Ronanstown. Adequate facilities have not been provided for Garda stations in the greater metropolitan area. I appreciate that the Garda Commissioner must have priorities, but some elaborate Garda stations have been built elsewhere which serve smaller catchment areas than Blanchardstown. The gardaí in Blanchardstown want work to commence on the new station in the second half of this year. Local gardaí in Clondalkin have also considered not reporting for duty to their station. Gardaí investigating the [935] murder of Marlyn Rynn in Blanchardstown have to use the incident room in Cabra Garda station as the one in Blanchardstown Garda station is not suitable.

The Minister should address the concerns of the gardaí in Blanchardstown so that they will not have to take action in May. The schedule I outlined for the construction of the new station should be put into effect.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Mr. Currie): Information on Austin Currie Zoom on Austin Currie I am grateful for this opportunity to record progress on the provision of a new district headquarters in Blanchardstown. The Minister and I fully accept that the existing Garda station in Blanchardstown is totally inadequate for the policing needs of this developing area and has been for a long time. I can assure the Deputy that a very high priority is being afforded to the provision of a new station and that the project is progressing without delay. It is a matter of public record that the decision taken, and publicly announced by the Minister for Justice and myself, was made well in advance of the meeting in Blanchardstown to which Deputy Lawlor referred.

Negotiations between the Office of Public Works, whose responsibility it is to procure a site and build a new station, and Fingal County Council are at an advanced stage with a view to acquiring the site at the corner of the main street and Corduff Lane, known locally as “the Clonmel site”, for the erection of the new station. These negotiations are proceeding satisfactorily and no difficulties with the acquisition of the site are envisaged despite the many rumours to the contrary which have, for whatever reason, been circulated.

Neither the Minister nor I have any reason to believe or suspect there will be any problem in acquiring this site. The Office of Public Works expect to conclude an agreement on price with Fingal County Council very shortly. While the site in question is part of property which is the subject of transfer [936] from Dublin Corporation to Fingal County Council, the Minister is assured this will not present any problems. In other words, once price is agreed and the necessary legal formalities in relation to title are completed the site will be acquired.

The local station party has been kept informed of progress and is aware that this project is being progressed as a matter of priority. It appreciates that it will take some further time to complete all the legal formalities of site acquisition and has postponed its threatened walkout. In this regard, I take this opportunity on the Minister's behalf and on my behalf to thank the gardaí serving in Blanchardstown for their patience and co-operation and reasoned approach in this matter. They have tolerated conditions for many years which should not have been imposed on them or the local community they serve.

In the meantime steps are being taken to make conditions a bit more tolerable. For example, I understand that a portacabin was delivered to the station last Monday which will help to alleviate the accommodation problem being experienced.

The Office of Public Works is being allowed full access to the site and, concurrently with the site negotiations, planning of the new station is proceeding. A detailed brief of requirements, which was drawn up following consultation between officials of the Department of Justice and the Garda, has been forwarded to the Office of Public Works. It is now a matter for the Office of Public Works to prepare detailed drawings and agree these with my Department and the Garda. When this is done the Office of Public Works will immediately undertake the necessary planning consultation and prepare tender documents. Work has been proceeding and the Minister fully expects construction of the new station to begin before the end of the year.

The need for a new station at Blanchardstown was evident long before the Minister took office. However the Minister Deputy Owen immediately made it [937] one of her priorities to get something done about it. She put in motion the search for and acquisition of a suitable site, the preparation of plans for the new building and the earmarking of the necessary funds. I am happy the project is now well under way and there will not be avoidable delay in providing the gardaí and people of Blanchardstown with their much needed new station.

As a Minister of State at the Department of Justice who represents a large part of the area served by the Blanchardstown station, I am pleased that this development is taking place during my term of office.

The Deputy can rest assured I will continue to do all I can to ensure the new station will be provided at the earliest possible date.

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