Sligo gardaí have this morning, Monday, refused to enter Sligo Garda Station to carry out their duties.
The 101 members stationed in Sligo have staged the protest over conditions at the facility and are determined not to return until improvements are made.
Their protest on Health and Safety grounds has been brewing over recent years and a walkout by the gardaí in 2016 was avoided at the last minute when upgrading of the station was promised.Garda Ray Wimms the local GRA representative has said that all gardaí reporting for duty this morning have refused to enter the station are are instead carrying out their duties at a Chapel Street garda premises.
"Every member that is due to work this morning, is working. We want to ensure there is no disruption to our service to the people of Sligo.
"Every patrol car will be out and every call will be answered. There is a contingency implemented by superintendents so that there is an emergency control room off-site," he added.
A 2016 report by Michael Reilly & Associates engineers, found that the building was a fire trap, that it was a serious health and safety hazard and was too small to cater for the current workforce.
The report also highlighted other serious issues including “rodent invasions”, an antiquated heating system, “third-world” toilet facilities and cells which had no washing facilities and inadequate ventilation, and which, because of their layout, presented a risk to gardaí dealing with violent prisoners.The GRA confirmed it had deferred a 2016 walkout after being assured that some offices would be relocated, creating more space for gardaí, and that urgent remedial works would be carried out immediately.
In August this year, the Junior Minister at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Kevin Boxer Moran committed to a new site for Sligo Garda Station within “three or four weeks”.
Last month Sligo/Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry said, "If someone is arrested, they have to be taken 15 miles to Ballymote because the cells in Sligo have been condemned. In short, the division is in dire need of a new building.“Despite the obvious deficiencies in the Garda Station, no moves have been made to upgrade the facilities or identify a site for a new headquarters.
"This lack of action is in stark contrast to the cynical decision by Government to reopen Stepaside Garda Station in Dublin. Six weeks on from Minister Moran’s promise to find a new site for Sligo Garda Station and we are no further down the road."
This morning Deputy MacSharry told Sligo Today,
“It’s a complete disgrace that hard-working Gardaí are being forced to take this action to raise the seriousness of the situation at the station, but I completely understand their frustration with the lack of action by the Government. I will be continuing to liaise with members of the force to try and progress the case and will be offering any assistance that I can provide to ensure that a new building is secured as soon as possible”.
The Department of Justice have now stated, "Sligo Garda Station houses the regional headquarters for AGS [and] is an historic building.
"Some refurbishment work has taken place recently and there is a programme in place to build a new station in conjunction with the OPW through a Public Private Partnership."Predicament
Finbarr Filan, chair of Sligo BID told Sligo Today
that Sligo businesses enjoy an excellent relationship with local gardaí and sympathise with their predicament.
Mr Filan said, "The problems with Sligo garda station has been ignored by successive governments over several years. Sligo Purple Flag's meetings with gardaí has witnessed the conditions at the station and on audits in other towns and cities have seen the excellent standards in their stations.
"In Sligo it will be at least three to five years before a new facility will be unveiled as no location for the promised new station has yet even been decided," concluded Mr Filan.