Businesses in Cork city are planning to hire private security to ‘police’ their area following a major escalation of serious anti-social activity.
More than a dozen business owners in the Cornmarket St and Daunt Square area said they feel they have no option but to hire their own security presence on a two-month trial basis following a street brawl last weekend — the most serious in a series of similar incidents.
Customers sitting outside The Roundy bar were approached by an individual looking for a cigarette around 7pm last Sunday.
Following an aggressive exchange, the individual was joined by a gang of teenagers and adults who hang around in the area, and who began verbally abusing the customers. The incident descended into a mini riot, with glasses, bottles, pub furniture, and barriers being thrown.
A barman intervened and calm was restored for a few minutes before trouble flared again.
The traders said gardaí were called but it was 30 minutes before they arrived — 10 minutes after the incident ended and after the offenders had fled.
Frank Bradley, who owns The Roundy, said it was the worst in a long series of incidents in the area in recent years.
“We’ve had a lot of incidents that have been calmed down or defused by barmen before they kicked off,” he said. “But this brawl was the catalyst for the businesses in the area to unite. It was a case of enough is enough.”
Mr Bradley said businesses in the area are conscious that Garda resources are stretched. However, the business owners have sought a meeting with senior gardaí to discuss how they can work together to collectively tackle the problems.
A petition has also been signed by more than a dozen business owners and traders calling for an increased Garda presence in the area.
In the meantime, the traders — including managers and owners of pubs, fast-food outlets, sandwich bars, restaurants, retail outlets, and shopping centres — have pooled their resources to hire a private security company to police the area for the summer.
“There is a distinct lack of a Garda presence in the city,” Mr Bradley said. “We need more gardaí on the street. It would make us all feel better, and would send out a message to these people that they just can’t misbehave like that.”
On the Neil Prendeville Show yesterday, several business owners said they know problems associated with street drinking and open drug abuse are being experienced in other areas of the city. They said there is a core group, an “intimidating element”, who are causing the problem which once tackled by gardaí in one area, seems to be displaced to other parts of the city.
“We are willing to work with everybody to reclaim the area,” a spokesman from the Woodford said. Traders in Paul St had raised concerns about vandalism during the week.
Earlier this year, Winthrop St traders spoke about intimidation being caused by gangs of teenagers. Gardaí addressed that issue and the problem has eased.
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