Stepaside garda station 'not a priority', head of Dublin policing tells committee

The decision has been criticised by opposition TDs

The Assistant Commissioner in charge of policing in Dublin says re-opening Stepaside garda station would not have been his priority.

Based on criteria set down by Government, Stepaside has been selected by gardai to re-open.

Opposition TDs have criticised that decision, noting the station is in the constituency of Transport Minister Shane Ross.

At the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy was asked by Sinn Féin's David Cullinane if Stepaside would have been his choice to reopen.

"If I was being given extra additonal manpower today, Stepaside would not be my first allocation.

"I could not send guards to Stepaside before I'd send them to Ballyfermot and Ronanstown, and the north inner-city and the south inner-city."

Pushed by Mr Cullinane that he 'has to' do this, Assistant Commissioner Leahy replied: "No, no - nobody has directed me to do anything yet".

Vice chairperson of the PAC, Labour's Alan Kelly, described the re-opening of Stepaside as 'incredible'.

He said: "What we heard at this morning's Public Accounts Committee surrounding the re-opening of Stepaside garda dtation is unbelievable.

"The Head of Policing in Dublin, Assistant Garda Commissioner Pat Leahy, admitted to the PAC that Stepaside is not a priority.

"It is incredible that a senior member of the garda management team so openly acknowledged that the opening of Stepaside was done because of criteria set by the Department of Justice for political reasons."

"Following this morning’s Public Accounts Committee, the Government need to explain why the demands of Minister Ross were put ahead of the needs of Dublin policing.

"A review must be carried out of the whole process and ultimately, the allocation of resources should be handed over to the Policing Authority."

Additional reporting: Jack Quann