Three public meetings were held in recent weeks, one in Kilteel and two in Kill, following the Garda station closure, and positive outcomes have been achieved.
The meetings were organised by Fianna Fáil’s Naas Area Representative, James Lawless, to allow the community discuss the issues and explore the options. “We have made some progress” said James “amidst concern and alarm at the outset when the village was left exposed, we have now taken steps as a community to advance measures of self-help”.
Speakers at the Kill Public Meeting
“Any doubts about the strength of local concerns were dispelled when we collected over 400 signatures on a petition in the space of a few days” said James. “However these closures are a government decision and whilst we oppose them, they remain outside our control – how we respond to them however is in our control and I am satisfied we have made positive progress in playing the hand we’ve been dealt.”
The first of the public meetings saw Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesman Niall Collins TD outline party protest to the closures nationally and the second public meeting saw Superintendent Pat Mangan from Naas Station offer Garda guidance on the new arrangements. “The Superintendent outlined measures which he will oversee to ensure a continued policing presence in the area and I want to thank him for his attendance on the night and engagement with the community” said James. “I would also like to thank Fr. Willie and Kill parish for very kindly making available a location where we have organised a weekly Garda clinic can be held for people to get forms signed or have access to a local Garda on a scheduled basis.”
A community alert is now being established also and a committee now begins the work of setting up the scheme. The committee will be seeking input from each of the estates and townlands to a achieve coverage across the village so as to maximise efficiency of the scheme.
A final meeting took place in the Kilteel Inn with speakers from community alert schemes elsewhere and an alert scheme is to be setup covering Kilteel / Eadestown / Rathmore following on from that meeting also.
Any interested parties are invited to contact James Lawless on 086 834 8869 to find out more information or to join up to the alert schemes in either locations.
I was delighted to host a very productive meeting last Tuesday night in the Dew Drop Inn, Kill, to discuss the fallout from the planned closure of Kill Garda Station and neighbouring stations along the Kildare / Wicklow border. I organised the meeting because I have major concerns that the government is taking away Garda resources at a time when commuter belt crime levels are clearly on the increase. People needed real reassurances that they will not be left high and dry. The government are closing stations at Kill, Ballymore Eustace, Hollywood, Donard and Ballitore which to my mind leaves a whole belt of territory wide open and vulnerable to attack.
The meeting drew a crowd of about 50 locals and guest speakers were Niall Collins TD, Fianna Fáil spokesman on justice and Jim Brady, a Newbridge based home security expert. Representatives from Kill Tidy Towns and most of the estates in the village also were in attendance at the meeting.
Fianna Fáil party policy remains very much against these closures and as said, I am not convinced at all of the rationale behind these closures, we have heard figures as low as 2,500 euro a year to keep Kill station open, yet the government seem intent on dismantling the garda network here and elsewhere across the country. It’s quite stark when the Garda Representative Association have had to raise their concerns about a running down of the force.
I do think it’s very important however, that there is a need to more than just bang the table, but rather to work with the local community to find solutions also. One very productive action from the meeting was that we would setup a community alert scheme in the village. That process is now in train and everyone signed up on the night. McGreal’s pharmacy kindly agreed to host a signup sheet and I would invite anyone with an interest in these matters to drop in and leave their name and details and get involved or people can contact me directly using this link if they want to get involved.
I will be scheduling a second, follow up meeting, over the next couple of weeks to get the alert scheme off the ground and I am also in ongoing contact with Superintendent Pat Mangan in Naas station on these issues in Kill and surrounds.
Goverment tells Kill and Ballymore stations to close down
In the midst of the harshest budget in the history of the state Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, took the opportunity to announce a raft of Garda station closures under cover of the political distraction.
Despite a growing crime wave across the Naas area and wider commuter belt, with burglaries up again, Minister Shatter has seen fit to close Garda Stations in Kill and in Ballymore Eustace, taking a total of four local Garda resources out of those communities and being recalled to duties in Naas Town Station.
Fianna Fáil’s Local Area Representative for Naas area, James Lawless, has criticised the move and says the Minister is particularly devious in trying to sneak this in under cover of the budget distractions.
“Kill Garda station has covered the wider area of Kill, Kilteel, Eadestown and surrounds whilst Ballymore also served a large rural hinterland. With zero community consultation and no public engagement at the stroke of a pen the Minister has dealt a blow to local communities and removed the security of a permanent local Garda presence. I have written to the Superintendent in Naas Station to convey my concerns and to ask what contingency plans are to be put in place. Between the Council cutting off public lighting and the Minister closing down Garda stations it is almost an invite to anti-social behaviour and worse” said James. “These communities cannot be left exposed and unprotected” concluded James.
Fianna Fáil’s Naas Area Representative, James Lawless, has expressed concern over the government’s choice of site for the childrens’ hospital and has expressed reservations on the city centre location chosen in Dublin 8.
"Accident and Emergency" Corridor?
“A great many people from the Naas Area and across North Kildare will have had occasion to visit Tallaght hospital with their children and most will have found it accessible, clean, efficient and convenient” said James. “I have been to Tallaght hospital on a number of occasions with my own children” James outlined “and the location served North Kildare very well. I am concerned at the impact the new city centre site will have on accessibility. As far back as 2008 I wrote to the then childrens’ Minister, Barry Andrews, to express my concerns over the impact on North Kildare of taking childrens’ services out of Tallaght and into the city centre. Now we have a different site but the same issue and I feel an opportunity has been missed to site it so as to serve the whole country. I have concerns about the additional travel time and accessibility difficulties now that a city centre location has again been preferred”.
My own view would have been that the Connolly site at Blanchardstown would have been a better bet not just to serve Naas, but the entire rest of the country who could have accessed it via the motorway network. Burying it right in the middle of the city is going to make life so much more difficult for all those travelling from outside Dublin compared to the convenience of any of the competing sites situated along the M50. Especially given that Naas hospital does not admit children into A&E – will emergency child cases now have to be battle through traffic into the city centre to be seen?” asked James in conclusion.
Local Area Representative, James Lawless, has escalated the safety issues at Kill school entrance to the Department of Education.
When the new Kill primary school opened last year, the gates open out onto a busy slip road for traffic coming into the village off the M7. Children cycle and walk along a kerbside right beside the road with no separation and one trip or push could have tragic consequences. Parents have been campaigning for railings or a barrier to be erected.
James raised the matter with Fianna Fáil Education Spokespeople, Senator Averil Power and Deputy Charlie McConalogue, who in turn raised the matter with the Minister for Education. In response to these representations the Department have confirmed they have no objection to railings or similar safety features at the exit of the school and the matter is four square within the council jurisdiction to resolve. James has pledged to continue working with colleagues and parents and to press the council to progress this issue to a solution.