403. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda stations that have closed in the years 2012 to 2014 and in 2015 to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13258/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The formulation of proposals in relation to the opening and closing of Garda stations is a matter, in the first instance, for the Garda Commissioner in the context of annual policing plans, as provided for in section 22 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
I am advised that An Garda Síochána completed a comprehensive review of its district and station network in 2012 and 2013. The objective was to identify opportunities to introduce strategic reforms to enhance service delivery, increase efficiency and streamline practices within the organisation. The review concluded that a revised district and station network commensurate with the organisation resource base would best meet public demand.
The Garda Station and District rationalisation programme was implemented in An Garda Síochána during 2012 and 2013 which brought about the closure of 139 Garda Stations and the amalgamation of 32 Districts.
The Commissioner at the time stated that the revised structures will continue to support the Garda community philosophy through the clustering of services at policing hubs. This centralisation of services will facilitate the introduction of enhanced patrolling arrangements which, in turn, will provide increased Garda visibility as well as maintaining existing Garda links with communities throughout the country. The objective is to ensure that the best possible policing service will continue to be provided to our communities. The Garda Commissioner also advised that closure of stations has resulted in some additional 61,000 patrolling hours being available for operational policing.