Nationalist councillors in Limavady united last week to vote against a Unionist proposal that Dungiven police station should stay open.
The PSNI is currently seeking views on closure of the station, and others. They say Dungiven station costs around £52,000 a year to run. Currently it is open just two hours every other Tuesday. Last year the ‘Journal’ revealed no-one had visited the station in the last 12 months.
During discussion on the matter at Council last week, unionist councillor Boyd Douglas proposed that Dungiven station be re-instated and opened for the benefit of the public. However, all nine nationalist councillors voted aginst the proposal while all six unionist councillors voted in favour of it.
“Policing isn’t just about buildings. It’s really about engaging with the community,” said SDLP Colr. Michael Coyle. “The idea of a police ‘shop’ still appeals to me. No matter what we say Dungiven police station will disappear.”
TUV Colr. Douglas said the issue of Dungiven station had been ongoing for some time and accused Sinn Fein of trying to get it closed for some years.
“This consultation is probably a waste of time. It’s only open two hours a fortnight,” he said. “It looks to me as if the decision has been made and Sinn Fein are very happy about this.”
Colr. Douglas said Sinn Fein wanted the barracks in Ballykelly closed and now they wanted the station closed, but asked: “Who shouts the loudest when they are falling out on a Sunday night? I am totally opposed to this. Sinn Fein have been lobbying long and hard for this,” he said. “It’s a sad state of affairs.”
However Sinn Fein Colr. Anne Brolly hit back and said: “Dungiven Station has closed itself. I mean, £51,961 for the station in one year that no one visits. The figures speak for themselves. We are in a different era of policing now and it’s not about buildings.”
DUP Colr. Alan Robinson said it was clear there was no consensus to be reached on the issue and said his party was opposed to the closure of Dungiven and other local stations.
Chief Executive Liam Flanigan said he would write a response for the consultation stating Council discussed the matter and has wide ranging views on it.