Garda calls for State help to combat anti-social behaviour

A SENIOR garda has claimed his force’s resources are so “finite” that they will need the help of communities and Government agencies to combat the growing trend in anti-social behaviour.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Ludlow was speaking in the wake of an RTÉ Prime Time Investigates programme on anti-social behaviour that highlighted problems in Cork estates.

He said gardaí were working with the resources they have, but parents must take more responsibility for their children.

"Respect for authority has diminished over the past 20 to 30 years and traditional guidance is also being lost," he said. "A substantial amount of work is going on with communities [in Cork] and there are a number of partnership programmes in place addressing these problems."

He said gardaí liaised successfully with some community groups, but hinted that more involvement was needed.

Cork North Central Fianna Fáil TD Noel O'Flynn said more prosecutions and a "multi-agency" approach was needed to tackle the problem.

"A number of my constituents have the neighbours from hell, no area is safe but people don't make complaints because they are afraid of retribution or intimidation," he said.

"I would be in favour of isolating the troublemakers, taking them out of estates and not housing them again. This needs a multi-agency approach, there are plenty of laws to deal with it and stop this kind of behaviour."

Prime Time Investigates highlighted Glanmire, Knocknaheeny, Mayfield and Mahon as areas where anti-social behaviour is prevalent in Cork.

Glanmire Area Residents' Association chairperson Michael Burns said the programme had shocked people in the area.

"I had an idea of what was going to be in the programme as I've been involved in efforts to address the problem for months now," he said. "However, some people were shattered by it 95% of people in Glanmire would never have seen this sort of thing and they were very taken aback that their area was shown in this light. Myself and local councillors were available to talk to Prime Time, but they seemingly only wanted to talk to people who would perhaps exaggerate the problem."

Mahon-based Green Cllr Chris O'Leary, who was interviewed for the programme, said he felt the topic was dealt with appropriately.

"You always worry about what's going to be used, but in fairness to the producers, they did a great job and did the topic a great deal of justice," he said.

"The sentiments to come out of the programme recognise that we have a problem, but the time for burying our heads in the sand is long gone, we must deal with the issue and create untied communities."

Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher, who represents the Glanmire and Mayfield areas, said he was pleased to see the programme highlight councillors' support of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs).

"I was delighted that 66% of councillors polled supported ASBOs. People say they're an infringement on people's lives, but the biggest infringement is not being able to feel safe in your own home," he said.

He added that while the programme's highlighting of areas stigmatises those communities, he welcomed the emphasis placed on the fact anti-social activity is perpetrated by a minority.

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