A commitment given by Chief Superintendent David Sheehan at a public meeting last week not to close Pallaskenry Garda Station and to propose the appointment of two Gardaí on a permanent basis to Pallaskenry in the near future has received a broad welcome locally.

The meeting was called to give the people of Pallaskenry, Kildimo, Kilcornan and surrounding environs an opportunity to discuss the urgent need to retain the local Garda Station.

The meeting was attended by Chief Supt David Sheehan and Inspector Eamonn O’Neill. Upwards of 200 people attended. The meeting was opened by chairman, Mr. Michael O’Sullivan, and he

commenced by inviting

speakers from the locality.

Paddy O’Neill, Principal of the Salesian Secondary College emphasised the need for a local Garda presence to help monitor the behaviour of over 500 students attending the college.

Tommy O’Shea, Chairman, Kildimo Community Council, pointed out the area’s proximity to Limerick city and the fears of the older members of the community at the lack of a Garda presence following the retirement of Garda Nicholson who has not yet been replaced. Older people feel isolated, particularly following incidents in Pallasgreen.

Randal Howlett, Chairman, Kilcornan Community Council, pointed out that the local station had provided security and a point of local contact forhis members over the years. He sought the development of a Community Alert Scheme with a view to integrating local resources to help the Gardaí in crime prevention. This cannot happen without the help of local, permanent Gardaí.

Emmett O’Brien, Pallaskenry, who was responsible for first mooting the idea of a public meeting and was one of the main organisers following the delay in getting a commitment regarding the retention of the Garda Station, thanked all the local organisations and individuals who were in attendance and again demanded a quick decision on the permanent manning of the station. “The population of the area which Pallaskenry Garda Station services has increased by 12% since the 2006 census. Having a commitment to keep Pallaskenry Garda Station open was great but a Garda Station is only bricks and mortar without a permanent Garda presence. We need a firm commitment from the Minister for Justice that Pallaskenry Garda Station will remain a permanent service station and we need an exact time frame when Pallaskenry will get a locally based Garda” Mr. O’Brien said.

Chief Superintendent Sheehan then addressed the meeting and stated that crime levels were low in the area and praised the previous members who manned the station. He gave a commitment that the Garda Station would not close and that he proposed to ring fence the appointment of two Gardaí to a permanent posting in Pallaskenry. He had to deploy his scarce resources and pending a final decision on this, a Garda will be deployed on a temporary basis. He stated that it was very unlikely that a replacement Supt. will appointed to Askeaton and this will have a big bearing on the deployment of personnel in the area.

Other speakers included Rev. Fr. Martin Loftus, Rector, Salesian College; John McCarthy, Principal, Agricultural College, Pallaskenry, who pointed to the need for Garda monitoring of the large population of agricultural students – prevention and advice being the key to co-operation; Cllr. Kevin Sheehan sought infor-mation on the future status of Askeaton Station; Cllr. Pat Fitzgerald, Cllr. Kevin Sheehan, Deputy Dan Neville and Deputy Niall Collins also spoke.

Other politicians who came to lend their support were Deputy Patrick O’Don-ovan, and Cllr. Stephen Keary.

Apologies were received from Cllrs. John Sheehan and James Collins and retired Garda, Noel Nicholson.

In conclusion, the chair-man, Michael O’Sullivan, proposed that the situation be reviewed in 6 months time.