Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has announced the closure of 100 garda stations and a reduction in the opening hours of another seven.

Mr Shatter said this evening the vast majority are part-time stations which are open for less than three hours a day and are served by one garda.

The western seaboard counties are worst-affected, with Galway to lose ten stations, nine stations to close in Kerry, eight in Clare, six in Limerick and five in Donegal and Leitrim.

The two largest stations to close are in Dublin. Kill O' the Grange in Dún Laoghaire, which has 28 gardaí, and Stepaside, which has 34, are both to close.

The minister said that after the closures, which are expected to be completed by the middle of next year, there will still be 564 garda stations in the State.

Seven stations in Dublin and Cork are to reduce their opening hours and close at night.

Six in Cork, including the Bridewell and Mayfield, will open from 7am to 9pm, while the garda station at Dublin Airport will open at 7am and close at 11pm.

This evening the Garda Representative Association accused Mr Shatter of disguising closure as consolidation and the withdrawal of gardaí from rural communities as rationalisation.

The GRA said the changes are being imposed without proper public consultation and will have a negative effect on the quality of the police service.

It described the move as a political decision made without proper risk assessment to underpin it and said it fears the closures will mean the end of community policing for many of the garda districts affected.

Fianna Fáil's Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins condemned what he described as Alan Shatter's 'jaw dropping cynicism'. 

Mr Collins said the minister is treating the law enforcement community and vulnerable communities everywhere with complete contempt.