Ross and Flanagan lock horns over garda station

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross Photo: James Connolly
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross Photo: James Connolly

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Minister for Transport Shane Ross are on collision course for a bitter Cabinet row over the controversial reopening of Stepaside Garda Station.

Mr Flanagan last night said he was “surprised” at a suggestion from Mr Ross that the station would soon be reopened. Speaking to the Sunday Independent, the Minister for Justice said he was unable to state a date for the station’s reopening as it was in need of a major refurbishment.

“Having visited the former station earlier in the week I was shocked at the dilapidated state of the interior,” he said. “Following what I saw I am surprised at suggestions the opening is imminent.”

It is understood refurbishment work on the station could cost as much as €1m.

Mr Flanagan’s comments were in reaction to Mr Ross emailing constituents to say he expected to be given an opening date in the “coming weeks”.

“Over the last 12 months, progress on delivering on this commitment has been much slower than we all would have liked,” Mr Ross wrote. “Given the many departments and agencies involved in this process including the Department of Justice, An Garda Siochana and the OPW, it has at sometimes seemed infuriatingly slow.

The Transport Minister added: “I expect to be able to update you on a timetable for those works and a proposed opening date for the garda station in the coming weeks.”

Mr Ross has campaigned to have the station in his constituency reopened before and since being appointed to the Cabinet. Last year, Government announced that Stepaside would be one of six stations reopened follow a review of resources.

The others stations to be reopened were in Rush, Co Dublin; Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow; Donard, Co Wicklow; Ballinspittle, Co Cork and Bawnboy, Co Cavan.

However, a Public Accounts Commission (PAC) report has since questioned the value for money in reopening the station.

At a PAC hearing, Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy said he would have chosen to open another station based on policing resources.

Sunday Independent

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