Multi million euro plans to carry out extensive upgrades of Longford and Ballymahon Garda Stations have been put on hold due to garda cutbacks, writes Liam Cosgrove.
Both stations had been in line for large scale six figure redesigns to bring them in line with the increasing demands of modern day policing.
Around €500,000, earmarked for cell refurbishment and additional accommodation for Longford Garda Station had been announced last May while a similar figure had been suggested to transform Ballymahon Garda Station into a fully fledged 24 hour facility.
Moves to revamp a prisoner processing unit at Granard Garda Station have also stalled on foot of correspondence circulated from within the Gardaí's Estate Management Division.
The news was met with widespread condemnation at a meeting of Longford County Council's Joint Policing Committee (JPC) on Monday.
Supt Jim Delaney said he admitted the announcements would invariably heap further strain on garda resources going forward.
"To say I am disappointed is an understatement," he said.
"What it does is it presents challenges for us (Gardaí) as to how we can meet the levels of (policing) demand in 2018 and 2019."
His Granard based counterpart, Supt Brian Mohan gave an equally dejected appraisal of how the move would impact garda capabilities into the future.
He said the delay in upgrading Granard Garda Station's prisoner processing unit presented real and immediate concerns of their own especially as the current facility in place was inadequate.
“Our budgets have been reduced for 2018 which impacts seriously on our ability to deliver a service that we would like to deliver," he said.
"The prisoner processing area in Granard Garda Station is not fit for purpose and despite us looking at plans for a revamp that too has been out on the back burner so we will have to see where that leaves us because it is a health and safety issue," he said.
They were sentiments which sparked sweeping criticism among elected members.
"I think it's outrageous," said a discordant Cllr Peggy Nolan.
Committee members, meanwhile, unanimously agreed to send a letter to for Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan with a view to holding an urgent meeting over the controversy.
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