Thursday, 6 May 1999
Dáil Éireann Debate
Mrs. T. Ahearn: The matter I am raising is not one of national interest but it is of great concern  to the people in a small village who are proud of their area. It is embarrassing for all of us that a Department is preventing the tidy towns committee and the local community from aspiring to win, or even compete in, the tidy villages competition. I refer to the appalling derelict state of the Garda station in the village of Golden, where I was born and reared. Golden is a beautiful village. Much work has been done through FÁS and in co-operation with the local community, but the eyesore in the village is the Garda station. I am not talking about millions of pounds but a small sum of money is required to bring that building up to an acceptable standard. If it is allowed to deteriorate much further, it should come under the derelict sites Act. It is unfair of a Department to allow a building which is in a prominent position in the village – it is located at the entrance to the village – fall into such disrepair. The paint is peeling off the walls and the building looks dilapidated.
It is bad enough that the local community no longer has a member of the Garda Síochána living in their village but it is another matter that they are left with this eyesore. We are talking about a small amount of money but it would mean a great deal to the local community in their aspiration to win the tidy villages competition. They want to be proud of their locality. I ask the Minister to provide the money necessary to bring this building up to an acceptable standard.
We should not have to raise a matter such as this on the floor of the House. This is a reasonable request from an honest, hard-working and sincere community. I look forward to good news from the Minister.
Mr. McCreevy: I thank the Deputy on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O'Donoghue, for raising this issue and affording me the opportunity to explain the position regarding Golden Garda station in County Tipperary. The Minister is aware that Golden Garda station leaves much to be desired. To remedy this situation, various options have been considered, including refurbishing the existing station or building a new one on a greenfield site. At one stage the latter option was reckoned to be the best one. To this end, the Office of Public Works was requested to search for a site or premises in the area which would be suitable to meet Garda requirements. I understand, however, that to date no suitable site has been identified. In view of this ongoing difficulty in obtaining a site, the Minister recently instructed his officials to re-examine the matter. As a result, the Office of Public Works has been requested to examine again the minimum cost of refurbishing the existing station. It also has been asked to consider if it would be feasible and more economical to demolish the existing building and  build a new station on the site. When these options have been examined, the Minister will see how quickly the matter can be progressed. There will be no avoidable delay in resolving the difficulties at Golden Garda station, subject to other Garda building priorities.
A great deal has been achieved in recent years in improving the standards of accommodation at Garda stations throughout the country. It is, however, a largescale operation. This programme of improvement has a high priority both with the Minister and the Government. This year, for instance, more than £10 million has been provided for the building and maintenance of Garda stations. The gardaí occupy 704 Garda stations, units of accommodation throughout the country, including married quarters, large complexes like Templemore and Garda Headquarters, and a variety of smaller units. Many of the buildings occupied by them were built before the foundation of the State and were designed for a different era. Many, like the one in Golden, need major upgrading or replacement.
Tipperary has not been forgotten in the Minister's Garda building programme. Work on the extension and refurbishment of Thurles Garda station, costing £1.3 million, is scheduled to be completed in the autumn. The Minister also secured a special allocation this year for development of the Garda College at Templemore. This project will provide a residential block, lecture theatres and recreational facilities to cater for the increased number of recruits being inducted as part of the Government's programme to increase the strength of the force to 12,000. This project, which will cost in excess of £3 million, will start later this year. There are also plans to build a new district headquarters in the town of Templemore. I understand from the Office of Public Works that negotiations for the purchase of premises in the town for the new station are at an advanced stage.
A great deal of work has been done in recent years to upgrade Garda accommodation and I am sure Members of the House will acknowledge the many improvements to Garda stations and the new stations built in recent years throughout the country. Golden Garda station will follow as soon as possible.
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