YET again our front page is dominated by a story that chronicles the latest threat to our city and county. This time it comes in the form of proposals to amalgamate the Waterford Garda Division with the Carlow-Kilkenny division, and site the new headquarters for such a development in Kilkenny.
It is difficult to see such a move having anything other than a deeply detrimental impact on policing in Waterford, with the end result being the dilution of Garda services here.
Clear communication on such an outrageous proposal is urgently required from the Garda authorities, the Department of Justice and Equality and our politicians.
Waterford is believed to be the only city-based Garda Division being considered for such a realignment.
Concerns arose on Monday as news leaked out of the proposals, which are contained in a draft Divisional Policing Model. It is understood that the draft plan proposes to do away with local policing districts, of which Waterford currently has three – the City, Tramore and Dungarvan.
Ironically, Kilkenny’s current Garda division is far smaller than Waterford’s. An amalgamated division would stretch to 200km.
It seems that, contrary to Waterford being prioritised under the Project Ireland 2040 strategy, it is yet again to be gravely undermined, in danger of being treated, in the words of Deputy David Cullinane, as a second-tier county.
With frustration in Waterford, which was once considered the hub city of the South East, at an all-time high – particularly in relation to the lack of 24/7 cardiac care and questions over our existing cath lab – this does little to encourage faith in central government having anything other than a completely antithetical attitude to our city.
Waterford City and County has had a divisional Garda HQ in the city since 1922. Almost 100 years later to even contemplate a different scenario would be a huge step back for Waterford.
Policing, if anything, is more and more complex – with crime becoming increasingly sophisticated. Ultimately, however, good policing is achieved by being present in and knowing the people of the communities which you serve, and strengthening links in those communities.
To choose, rather than augment our Waterford Garda Division’s policing strengths, to diminish them through a geographical fallacy is a very poor reflection on the leadership –political and policing – pushing for such an outcome.
A hurrah of a weekend…
Waterford Walls and the Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival, for all the difficulties and hurdles that they face in terms of funding, are a triumph of community and imagination. This weekend they will bring thousands of visitors to the seaside village and to the city, for cultural events that were borne of wanting to do something to enhance tourism locally.
They are testament to the importance of trying something new and different, and persevering. The results – the national spotlight will once again shine on Waterford for positive and beneficial reasons. Amazing photos from the initial works of art by this year’s Waterford Walls street artists are already circulating. By next Monday we will have another fresh, new open air art gallery free for everyone to enjoy and unique to our city.