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Station Watch:

Visiting Naas Garda Station was a sheer pleasure according to John O’Keeffe as he met with the spine of the Frontline

To observe exactly the work of the Frontline as they go about their daily tasks is always a sight to behold. Immeasurable work by modern standards, but so critical to the support they enjoy in their community. Naas was no exception.

And let us be clear – Naas is a big Garda Station with the District covering a population of 80,000. Here’s the key about Naas and surrounding stations however – they police the largest tranche of motorway in any Garda Division.

Unsurprisingly therefore, my first port of call was to go out with Roads Policing with Gardaí June Lyons and John Joe O’Connell. Let me get this straight from the outset – these guys do some job to keep us all safe, from a man deciding to answer a call of nature on the hard shoulder (I kid you not) to setting up checks on the roads just off the motorway; these two have it covered. Speeding is a big issue but coming up to Christmas of course they have to be ever mindful of drink and drug driving. However, it was their politeness, courtesy and bonhomie with drivers they stopped that struck me the most. This is the type of policing that consistently gets gardaí 80% + satisfaction rate with the public. Get those who break the law off the roads and those that don’t, why not has a friendly quick conversation? There to serve the people – not themselves. Commissioner Drew Harris would have been proud.

Superintendent Declan McCarthy is the avuncular man in charge of the station, kind to all and not just towards the younger Frontline. I suspect you have to get up very early in the morning to catch him and it shows – this man knows his patch – and more importantly what his big focus is. “Roads policing forms a large part of our daily duties with more than 70,000 individual journeys on the M7 daily,” he says. “However, our primary focus is continuing to engage with the public at all levels from our daily contacts on the street to the more formal ‘official’ type contacts. The highlight of this engagement every year is probably the Punchestown National Hunt Festival, where more than 100,000 people visit us here in Naas and the goodwill towards the gardaí working this festival is reassuring to see. We also police music festivals at the same venue.”

He knows too what he would do in the morning if he could – ensure everyone had Body Cameras and a new, fresh operational uniform. Such statements will be meet with approval from his Frontline for sure.

But on visiting any station, one must have a trip out with the regular units – the unsung heroes and heroines of the Frontline who operate as its spine – and I was lucky enough to meet three of the best. Gardaí Hugh Dawson and Vincent Teehan are the type of chaps you would love to have come to your aid in the event of a road traffic collision – which is exactly what we were called to near the Bog of Allen. Thankfully, no party was seriously injured but an ambulance was called. It’s a tricky one to ensure you have all the administrative details correct and also that everyone knows that all will now be well, but they did this with such aplomb that you would be forgiven for thinking they’d been at it for the last 30 years. All details taken care of; victims cared for, area cleaned and damaged vehicle removed, without fuss but with a great eye to detail and compassion. Seriously. Where would you get it?

And yes, although we don’t talk much about Sergeants and above in this magazine, I’m sticking my neck out here with a shout out for Sergeant John Fitzgerald. This man came out with us and just loves getting stuck in with his Frontline. A gentleman to his fingertips, he was a pleasure to observe in his dealings with his Frontline and the general public. Small wonder he is in on the Inspectors’ list – a shining star this Christmas.

Perhaps then we should leave the final festive words on Naas Garda Station to the captain however – Superintendent McCarthy. “We would like to wish all the residents of our District a very happy and safe Christmas. We have had a number of tragedies on the roads in the area in the last year and we are particularly conscious of all those families at this time. We would ask everybody to do what is within their control to avoid any further loss of life in the coming year.” Hear hear, Superintendent and thank you to all the gardaí I met at Naas – simply the best.

For full and in-depth coverage, see the current printed edition of Garda Review.

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