Thursday 26th May
As a native of Bailieborough myself it is with a heavy heart that I make my contribution on the publication of the O’Higgins report on the Cavan/Monaghan garda division. Can I say from the outset it is important to note that there are many gardai in Bailieborough garda station who do their job with the utmost professionalism, honesty and integrity but my sympathies do go out to the victims who have been let down by the state.
Therefore we must be clear that there is an urgent need to implement the recommendations of this report. We cannot change what has happened but we must learn from it. We must create an environment for the public and the gardaí that trust is at the core of every encounter between the citizens of this island and the keepers of the state. Victims must always be at the heart of the Gardaí service and the ongoing reform of the force of a practical and cultural change, needs to be embraced to restore the confidence and trust of the public.
The O’Higgins report says there was a perception that the gardaí in Bailieborough were working “under a cloud” for many years and the commission considers it of the utmost importance that the end of this inquiry will herald the beginning of a new era for the gardaí in Bailieborough. This is of critical importance to the community of Bailieborough and to the force itself.
The commission considers that, given the unique situation in Bailieborough, even more priority should be given to the construction of a new garda station there. Such a move would be much more than a symbolic gesture. It would help boost morale and would herald a new era in the provision of services to the community by the gardaí in Bailieborough.
And I quote from the report: 15.12
‘The garda station in Bailieboro is not fit for purpose. The commission is aware that in An Garda Síochána Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016-2021, announced by the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Minister of State at the Office of Public Works on 21st October 2015, the building of a new garda station is planned and the commission welcomes this. However, the commission recognises that the events giving rise to this commission of inquiry, and the inquiry itself have been matters which were the cause of stress to the gardaí in Bailieboro’.
I would hope that the closing of this inquiry will enable the gardaí in the area to a fresh start putting the subject matter of this inquiry behind them, learning lessons where appropriate, and to proceed to ‘faithfully discharge the duties of a member of the Garda Síochána with fairness, integrity, regard for human rights, diligence and impartiality, upholding the constitution and the law and according equal respect to all people,” in accordance with their solemn declaration under section 16 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
It is my understanding that the OPW have located a new site for a new Garda Station in Bailieborough and I would urge the Minister and the OPW to ensure this happens as soon as possible and taking cognisance of the ever demanding needs of the force. Their current station is listed building and not fit for purpose so it imperative that the new station will equip them with facilities, parking and fresh start that is so badly needed.
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