By David Raleigh
Residents of Croom, Co Limerick, are keeping a logbook of recorded crime in the area, in the hope of getting their local garda station re-opened.
The town’s fully-equipped garda station has lain idle for the past 12 months since the last serving local serving Garda Sergeant was moved to another garda station which is unfit for purpose and earmarked for closure and a new station constructed.
Concerned locals said they fear Croom is a sitting duck for “professional” gangs because of its close proximity to the N20 Limerick to Cork road.
Independent councillor, Richard O’Donoghue, is spearheading the campaign to re-open the town’s Garda station and return a permanent garda presence to Croom.
The idea to keep a log came following a recent knife-robbery at a local shop.
“We've had anti-social behaviour in (our) park. We had an incident where a person with a knife came into a shop in Croom at 7am in the morning,” Mr O’Donoghue said.
“That individual was arrested later on and taken to Newcastle West Garda Station,” he added.
Croom’s population is set to rise from 1,159 (2016 Census) after 60 housing applications were recently granted planning permission.
Mr O’Donoghue, who sits on the local Joint Policing Committee, plans to present the logbook to garda management on a monthly basis.
He said: “What we are trying to do here is protect people’s lives. Some people won’t ring (gardai) because they are afraid. The gardaí can't deal with these issues unless people tell them.”
A local woman told local radio station Limerick’s Live 95FM, she was concerned Croom’s reputation would be “destroyed” by the highlighting of the logbook in the media.
“In terms of larger criminality that Richard is referring to, some of those things have happened, yes, absolutely, and yes we need a Garda station, but Croom is a lovely village to live in,” she added.
However, the woman acknowledged there are issues in the town, and that locals are fearful of reporting incidents to gardaí. She said: “People are afraid to tell, people are afraid to talk, people are afraid to report.”
The woman said there were three house burglaries in her estate in the town in a period of less than two months.
“These were not local people. These were professional individuals who used the (dual carriageway) as their in and out.”
“The gardai came.. and they were brutally honest and said its unlikely that (they) will be able to charge these criminals because they have easy access to and from the village.
“My concern is that we are on the (dual carriageway) and it is a free-for-all effectively in terms of (criminals) coming and going.”