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Public Shouldn’t Fear Proposed Garda Changes

In his first local media interview, Chief Superintendent Seán Colleran, detailed his aspirations for policing in County Clare, how he will be keeping up the fight for resources and he will be taking a hard line on economic fraud.

By Carol Byrne
CLARE’S Chief Superintendent Seán Colleran has said while he would like to see the Clare Garda Division keep its individual division status, he said the public shouldn’t fear changes proposed under the Future of Policing Plan.
Amid local concerns that the Clare Garda Division may be amalgamated with either Tipperary or Galway, the new Clare garda chief says any changes that are made are “designed to improve the service”.
Unfortunately if that does happen it may mean that Clare could lose its chief superintendent. The Ballinasloe native says whatever happens there will “certainly be no reduction in services” for Clare.
The Future of Policing Plan has made recommendations and Chief Superintendent Colleran acknowledged that these seek to restructure the garda divisions, and also the regions.
“The reason is they want the divisions to have more consistency. At the moment, you have some divisions that are very big, and you have somewhat smaller ones. So their recommendation is to to look for bigger divisions and that allows them to be more autonomous in terms of resources, budgetary and financial expenditure and training. How that is going to land, I’d be lying if I said I knew. I know plans have been having circulating in the media, but nothing has been actually finalized,” he said.
Chief Superintendent Colleran said if the Clare division does amalgamate with another county, what it would mean is that the divisional office – headed by a chief superintendent – with its administrative support could move to another county. Equally it could remain in the county.
“Any chief superintendent is supported by a divisional office here or in another division and it shouldn’t really have an impact where that office is as long as his/her first line managers are based locally”.
He believes there will be restructuring out of the proposed plans but because there are so many variations of what could be adopted it is difficult to say how that will impact Clare at this stage.
“The commissioner will decide. The only real reduction that should happen is there maybe less chiefs and quite possibly less chiefs and the administrative support that comes with that. Any changes are designed to improve the service. Whatever changes there are, they are designed to improve the efficiencies but certainly there will be no reduction in services,” he commented.
Chief Superintendent Colleran comes to County Clare having spent the majority of his career in the West of Ireland primarily in Galway and Mayo. He served as inspector in the regional office of the Assistant Commissioner and became familiar with County Clare.
In discussing his plans he said the issues here are no different than other divisions and high visibility is something he is committed to providing.
He said one way of doing this is through checkpoints.
“I know people think we are obsessed with statistics, but it is about caring for the community. People should take comfort from seeing checkpoints at 9am. It’s about changing the attitude. It deters people and if it changes their attitudes and even if we get no detections out of it but it changes their attitude then we have done our job,” he said.
Last February Chief Supt Colleran was tasked with the responsibility for crime in the Galway division and out of that he said he intends to place more of a focus on economic fraud. This is where someone is defrauded and can be as simple as purchasing tickets online or from an unknown person only to find out the tickets are fake or don’t exist. Another form of it is where someone purports to be ringing from a reputable company like Eir or Bank of Ireland and seeks banking information.
“This is something we will be focusing in on from September that people should never ever give out any sort of banking details. I’ve seen it in Galway and it’s becoming a huge thing”.
He intends on sending Clare gardaí to the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau for training to help tackling this crime locally.
He commented that this type of crime is often under reported as people can be embarrassed having been duped.
“One of the key things is that if people have been defrauded economically and have lost money and if they get onto us immediately we can stop that money within a small window of time,” he said.
Drugs is another issue which he said would be tackled aggressively and he wants to see drugs awareness programmes through schools continued.
“We would be concerned about drugs, it effects all parts of society and we will aggressively deal with people who are making a living out of it”.
Resourcing is always going to be a priority and he acknowledges there has been a drain on resources in Clare.
“My main job is to make sure that we are making best use of what we have, whatever it is, you’ll always want more, and it is a natural thing. My main thing is to give comfort to the people that they’re in a safe county that is well policed and that when something happens we can respond. The one thing I will be saying to any garda down here is that we try to treat people in the same way as we would like them to treat their own family and everyone is our customer,” he said.
Chief Superintendent Colleran commended the work that has been done by his predecessors commenting that Clare was a very well run division and one that “really punches above its weight in terms of successful management”. He specifically mentioned Superintendents John Galvin and Brendan McDonagh, as well as Inspector John Ryan who has recently been promoted to Superintendent and Inspector Kieran Ruane who has been placed on the superintendent’s list for promotion.
He said this year has been an eventful one for the division with the visit of President Trump and the Irish Open. The latter being his first large scale operation as chief, as he took up the post on June 24.
Looking ahead he said the visit of Mike Pence in September will involve another large scale policing plan but he is confident given the inter-agency cooperation in Clare that this will be another successful operation.

About Carol Byrne

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Carol Byrne is a reporter at The Clare Champion newspaper reporting on news in the East Clare area and the arts. She also covers the courts in County Clare and has received seven national awards for this coverage from the Law Society of Ireland and a National Lottery Local Ireland national media award for Best Community Story 2019. A Masters in Journalism graduate of NUI Galway, she also holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Limerick in Music and Media Studies, and a Higher Diploma in Irish Legal Studies. She began her career interning at The Limerick Leader and Clare FM, before taking up a full time post at The Clare Champion in 2006.

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