From todays (23rd. November 2017) Irish Independent
Dear Editor, To think that in this day and age our frontline responders, An Garda Síochána, are still working in deplorable conditions is despicable. The Government of the day and the OPW should be ashamed.
The recent walkout by Gardaí in Sligo Garda station has highlighted the dangerous and terrible. Conditions we ask our men and women of the force to work in. The Sligo station is not only the Divisional and District Headquarters, but also the Regional Commander’s HQ, albeit he uses a separate entrance to a newer part of the building.
When in 2007 the Council of Europe Committee for Prevention and Torture did inspections of 10 Garda stations in Ireland, they highlighted the inadequacies and conditions of several of these and their use as detention centres.
In 2010, Gardaí in Macroom, Co Cork, walked out due to overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. In an inspection of Bailieboro, Co Cavan, by a retired judge in 2016, he found that there were inadequate facilities, such as no hot water for showers, broken heating, inadequate kitchen facilities, sewage problems and foul smells.
Sadly, lip service from the department and the OPW, and the ‘head in the sand’ attitude by some senior management, has led to this and other walkouts.
While Seanad Éireann and other Government Buildings get major overhauls with millions being spent, they treat frontline responders as second-class citizens. As a former member, I’ve worked in a number of Garda stations where there were inadequate facilities and where representative associations, on behalf of their members, shouted from the rooftops. We’ve had rats in toilets, faeces blocking cell toilets, dampness, and the list goes on. While some senior manager’s hand back budgets unspent, as does the OPW, why isn’t this money spent on upgrading these stations?
The Health and Safety Authority and the Fire Services should be called in to inspect all Garda premises and, like any other premises found to be in breach of the regulations, they should either be shut down or have immediate improvements carried out.
Christy Galligan (Retd. Gda. Sgt) Letterkenny, Co Donegal