A number of months ago Cootehill were left without their car and were forced to depend on equipment from Baileborough Garda Station, some 17 miles away. Following Monday night's JPC meeting in the town, concerns raised by locals were brought to the Garda Commissioner and last night, a new patrol vehicle with a holding cell arrived at the station for Gardai to begin policing the area of Cootehill. Pictured are Garda James Morris Roe and Garda Paul Fee from Cootehill Garda Station. Picture by Philip Fitzpatrick.
Following a sustained campaign of pressure to have it returned, the town of Cootehill has had its Garda patrol car reinstated.
The brand new patrol car, has just 120km on the clock, and much of those were accumulated driving it from Garda Headquarters in Dublin to the County Cavan town last night, Tuesday, October 9. The delivery came after a series of representations were made to the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, his Department and local law enforcement hierarchy over the past number of months.
When patrol cars clock up 300,000 kms, they are automatically taken out of circulation and are not replaced, as happened in Cootehill. It meant that for several months, Cootehill gardai were left with no way of getting to the scene of an incident in a rural area and instead replied on a car travelling from its district HQ in Bailieborough.
Locally that the removal of the vehicle posed was described as "the biggest challenge to rural policing" the town had seen in years as Cootehill garda area covers from Lisnalong to Treehoo Cross, from Drung to Canningstown and up around Mountainlodge. It is also shouldering an extra burden since Tullyvin Garda Station was officially closed at the end of 2011.
The reinstatement this week however was warmly welcomed by President of Cootehill Chamber of Commerce and Fianna Fail Councillor Don Smith who played a key role in the intensive campaign to have a car returned to the area. The new patrol vehicle comes equipped with a holding cell. Cllr Smith explained that this feature was also badly needed for Cootehill, saying there is currently no holding cell in the town and its addition would further alleviate the pressure on depending on back-up from Bailieborough.
"We fought hard to have a new car for the town. We have the new Community Alert text alert system and now with the new car it means that local gardai can once again set about policing to the fullest of their abilities.
"I have already received a large number of calls from elderly people living in rural areas in the Cootehill hinterland to are saying they feel much safer in the knowledge that the car has been reinstated".
Cllr Smith also thanked and highlighted the affect of a front page article published in The Anglo-Celt towards the end of August detailing the full extent to which Garda resources in the east of the county had been stretched without proper transport available to them.
Meanwhile, there is still no developments on the provision of new garda patrol cars for Kingscourt, Virginia, Mullagh and Shercock are all without cars.
Currently there are two cars used by the Traffic Corp, as distinct from Garda patrol cars, attached to Bailieboro. One of those is understood to have high mileage. A third car - described as a runaround - which was mainly used for enquiries, is understood to have been removed from the station.