Calls to stop the sale of Ardagh Garda Station have been made, after it emerged that the facility is going to public auction on March 28.
The garda station, which was closed last year following Government cuts to the sector, had been earmarked by a number of community groups in the area, but as of this week, it appears that the groups have been sidetracked and the sale is expected to go ahead in the award winning village next Friday.
Harry McSweeney, Leader with the 8th Longford Scout Group said that he had spoken to Deputy James Bannon (FG) with a view to securing the garda station for community groups, including the scouts and the Ardagh Toddler Group. “Last summer it was announced that community groups could acquire the garda stations from the Office of Public Works (OPW) and we immediately made contact with Deputy Bannon,” a disillusioned Mr McSweeney told the Leader. “While he did assist us for a short period of time, we did not hear anything from him since last June. We were led to believe that our application was being dealt with and we would be enabled to take over the station, however this was not the case and we learned last week that the station is going to public auction at the end of this month. As far as we are concerned it should be taken off the market.”
Three weeks ago Mr McSweeney, along with representatives from the two groups, contacted their public representatives. Deputy Robert Troy subsequently raised the matter in the Dáil and was told that the auction would go ahead. “I wanted to ascertain what exactly the situation was so I put a parliamentary question on the matter to the Minister,” said Deputy Troy. “I understood that community groups would be given the facility. It appears now that three different community groups in Ardagh made submissions, yet the Government has decided to hold a public auction on March 28. These facilities were promised to community groups, so it appears now that money is far more important to the government than community groups are.”
Deputy Bannon confirmed that he had spoken to the Scouts’ leader last year with a view to securing the premises, but said no plans had been submitted to the Department in respect of the matter. “The Minister is not going to sell the garda station if community groups are interested,” he said. “All is not lost yet, all the groups have to do is send in their proposals.”