Chief Superintendent Fergus Healy.

Mullingar to retain supt role under new model

While a Garda Superintendent will continue to be based in Mullingar under the new An Garda Síochána Operating Model, no decision has yet been made on the portfolio they will hold.

Chief Superintendent Fergus Healy told a meeting of the Westmeath Joint Policing Committee (JPC) in Athlone yesterday (Monday) that “the intention” under the new Operating Model is to have two superintendents based in Westmeath, one in Mullingar and one Athlone.

However, he added that the portfolios for all superintendents will change, and “no decisions have yet been made” on what areas of responsibility will be assigned to each superintendent.

The JPC meeting was attended by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, who told members that the issue of where superintendents would be assigned under the new model of policing “is a matter for the chief superintendent” but he added that way forward was not to start “stripping away” what is already in place.

Commissioner Harris gave a detailed presentation to the meeting of the plans to be put in place under the new Operating Model, which is the largest organisational shake-up for An Garda Síochána since its foundation.

These include plans to recruit up to 800 new members next year, subject to funding; a return to community policing and more frontline gardaí; larger garda divisions, enhanced national and regional support and improved performance.

Garda Commissioner Harris said An Garda Síochána is dealing with “a changing and more diverse society” and the force has to adapt to take account of this.

He referenced a large increase in online scams “including investment scams and romance scams” in recent times.

“Regrettably, we have also seen an increase in domestic violence, and in serious sexual assault and the abuse of children online,” said the commissioner, who added that a lot of the crime that the force is currently dealing with takes place “in the home, or at the end of the world wide web”.

The commissioner said it is his intention to bring the numbers in An Garda Síochána up to full strength of 15,000 within the next year, from the current figure of 14,300. “We have some way to go,” he said, “but we have a lot of government buy-in on this, so I am confident we can make it happen.”

The new Operating Model will result in the 28 existing garda divisions being reduced to 19.

Despite fears that it could lose out to Navan under the restructuring process, Mullingar Garda Station was chosen as the headquarters of the newly-amalgamated Meath Westmeath Division.