Taoiseach says new garda station will return O'Connell street to former glory

The exterior of the new Garda Station on O'Connell Street in Dublin
The exterior of the new Garda Station on O'Connell Street in Dublin

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has said the opening of a new garda station in Dublin's O'Connell Street will help bring it "back to its heyday."

Admitting that the central location was no longer "the street that it could be", he said new premises would be open until 2am every day and help visitors feel safe with a permanent office for the Irish Tourism Assistance Service.

The facilities will include a public reception, welfare facilities for Garda members as well as interview rooms for members of the public to report crime or seek assistance.

With several garda stations already in the area, Mr Varadkar said the new station was about having a visible policing presence on the streets.

With a plan to recruit 1,000 new gardaí in order to cover retirements, Mr Varadkar admitted this would be challenging because of high employment levels in the Republic.

At present, the maximum entry age to join the service is 35 with a retirement age of 60.

The Taoiseach said the policy was now "under review," adding "it is not somebody's numerical age it is the mental and physical fitness."

Earlier, the Republic's Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, said that while Dublin city centre had many great qualities, areas like O'Connell and Henry Street had significant problems.

"We clearly do have difficulties with anti-social behaviour, particularly in the evenings during the week and at points in the weekend," he said.

"It is why we have ambitious plans to recruit more gardaí for this year, over 1,000 gardaí, over 400 additional staff to support those gardaí.

"But we need to do better in the city centre, which is why I think it is an important moment in a city that I love, that I love living in, that I'm proud to represent, that we're opening up a new garda station in the heart of it."