'This erosion of service does serious damage to a community'
on 28/01/2013 00:00:00
Others to be closed are Quin, Inagh, Lahinch, Broadford, Mountshannon, Doonbeg, and Labasheeda.
Post master in Kilmihil, Gregory Fitzgerald said: "I remember back in the 1950s where there were four gardaí and a sergeant all based in Kilmihil.
Mr Fitzgerald said the number of gardaí serving the area has gradually reduced. "It is very disappointing, but it is the way things have gone."
Mr Fitzgerald, who is involved in the local community watch scheme, said the village Garda station provided comfort to older people in the area.
Mr Scanlan, meanwhile, fears crime will rise with the closure of the station.
"It is not good enough," he said.
Last week at Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan remarked that a lot of thefts are occurring in the west Clare area.
Fr Harry Bohan has been a strong advocate of rural rights dating back four decades, and the sociologist said he is appalled by the decision to close the stations.
Currently, the parish priest of Sixmilebridge - where the service is not under threat - Fr Bohan said: "Having a Garda station and a guard in the local community is an essential service - it is not something that you play around with.
"There is no substitute for having the guard living in the community - the fella you would be togging out with in training. They are as much a part of the community as the doctor and priest, they knew what was going on and prevented crime before it happened."
Justice Minister Alan Shatter has confirmed there will be a saving of €4,000 per station closure but Fr Bohan said: "You can't put a price on a life or the comfort a Garda station in the community provides.
"It is vital that people feel secure in their own homes."
He said that with the slow withdrawal of Garda presence in rural areas "a lot of the initiatives around rural development have shown up to be just talk".
He said with the closure of a Garda station in an area "people start to lose confidence in the area and the next thing you will find is that shops will close".
"This erosion of service does serious damage to a community."
He said he is surprised that there has not been more protest over the closures.
"People have to make their voices heard."
Supt Gerry Wall - who covers the west Clare area - said the changes will result in increased policing of the rural areas. "There will be no reduction in personnel and technology will allow us to provide a better service."
He said he is to introduce a grid system of patrolling rural areas and is in the process of setting up a registry of old people living in the locality, whom gardaí will visit.
"I am satisfied that the areas will be properly serviced by the gardaí."
Supt Wall pointed out the stations being closed had activity levels that were very low, and that crime is on the decrease in west Clare.
"There is an attachment to the Garda station building, but with the new way of policing, the local people will see the garda out and about meeting people. I would ask that public representatives would give this a chance. We are up for the challenge."