It is a tremendous tribute to the Stepaside local residents and business people who just want their Garda Station reopened that they have out of out of sheer frustration and lack of lack of Government response, reverted to the most ancient form of democracy, a public gathering.
The decision to close Stepaside Garda station in 2013 was totally reckless.
Stepaside is a huge area with some of the fastest growing communities in Ireland.
Figures which Fianna Fáil extracted from the Government via a Parliamentary Question before Christmas 2015 revealed that in the Dublin East Garda district which includes Stepaside:
There was a massive 42% increase in burglaries over the previous year.
Compared with two years ago, burglaries were up almost 80%.
So the strategy based on centralising the Gardaí in Dundrum station has clearly failed.
These cold statistics don’t reveal the trauma experienced by the victims of crime or the awful effects which the fear of crime has on all of us particularly, our senior citizens or people living alone.
I held two public meetings in May and July of last year on Crime and Burglaries in response to the crime and burglary fears. The majority of people at my meetings were either victims of burglaries or their neighbours were.
As a result, I have campaigned within the Fianna Fail party for the re-opening of Stepaside Garda station and I am pleased to say that the Party has made a formal and irrevocable commitment to re-open Stepaside Garda Station and re-establish a significant Gardai presence there.
Fortunately, the Stepaside Station is still in State ownership so we can do it.
But re-opening the Stepaside station must be accompanied by other measures to help Gardai combat the criminals and burglars.
That’s why we want more gardaí on the streets, more hi-speed vehicles for Gardaí and CCTV at critical junctions along the motorway network. We need tougher sentences for burglars and particularly for repeat burglars.
As a business person, who co-founded Lir Chocolates, I am used to solving problems and fighting bureaucracy. If I am elected to the Dáil, I will not give up on this fight come what may. It is imperative that our older population in Stepaside feel that our Garda Services are there for them.