Garda operational changes in Westmeath take effect

An Garda Siochana has confirmed that changes to its operational structure in Meath/Westmeath Garda Division have taken effect this week.

The new garda operating model has already been introduced in some other parts of the country and is now being implemented in Meath/Westmeath Garda Division. Under the new model, superintendents are given responsibility for defined functional areas: business services; performance and assurance; crime; and community engagement.

Superintendent David Nolan of Mullingar Garda Station, who previously headed policing for the town and surrounding area, now has responsibility for crime in the Meath/Westmeath Division.

Superintendent Bláithín Moran, Mullingar Garda Station, will be responsible for community engagement in Westmeath, while Superintendent Michelle Baker, will now oversee performance assurance in the Meath/Westmeath Division.

Chief Superintendent John Dollard, who is based in Navan, will have overall responsibility for the policing of the Meath-Westmeath Garda Division.

These new appointments took effect from Sunday last, November 19.

Several Athlone-area councillors previously voiced their concern about the Garda operational changes, which they described as a "downgrading" of Athlone Garda Station.

In a statement today (Tuesday), local Fianna Fáil councillor Aengus O'Rourke said the news this week had confirmed his worst fears about the new operational structure.

"While it is good to finally see 'the plan' for Athlone and Westmeath, it does not give me any confidence in relation to its operational effectiveness," Cllr O'Rourke stated.

"I am not alone in this view - the rank and file members of An Garda Siochana have no confidence in this plan, nor in the man delivering the plan, (Garda Commissioner) Drew Harris.

"Bear in mind that 98.7% of the members of An Garda Siochana voted no confidence in their leader, yet he carries on regardless. Surly this cannot continue to be the case for very much longer?

"With morale on the floor, crime figures rising, Garda numbers falling, recruitment in crisis... in my opinion we are witnessing a perfect storm for An Garda Siochana. And, unfortunately, Athlone is in the eye of that storm."