“I have seen people who are experiencing absolute hell because of antisocial behaviour,” Cllr Teresa Wright told this week’s council meeting during a discussion on a proposed antisocial behaviour policy document the local authority is about to implement.
Town clerk Joe O’Flaherty told the meeting that while they had invited public submissions on the draft document, only one had been received dealing with noise and loud music.
The mayor, Cllr Damien Geoghegan, said that while only a small minority of council tenants engage in antisocial behaviour, it is important nonetheless that they have a policy in place to deal with the situation.
“Sadly,” said Mr Geoghegan, “when you have parents who don’t care what their children are up to, antisocial behaviour is a problem that is not easy to resolve.”
Cllr Billy Kyne urged greater direct involvement by the elected councillors in conjunction with gardaí on the beat and said they should try to ensure a garda presence on the fringes of areas where antisocial behaviour is a problem.
Sinn Féin’s Cllr Brendan Mansfield said public drinking in many areas of the town has become an increasing problem and is one the council should be prepared to tackle “head on”.
Mr Mansfield told of one recent incident where children as young as seven or eight had warned an elderly resident not to walk along the former rail track in Abbeyside because they feared he would be attacked by a group of older youths who had gathered there.
“Bring in senior garda officers to meet with us so that we can discuss the antisocial behaviour policy document in detail,” he said.
Ms Wright said the policy document won’t be worth the paper it is written on without the backing of the gardaí.
“I have seen people who are experiencing absolute hell in some of our housing estates and are living in dread. When darkness comes all hell breaks loose in some estates,” she said.
The mayor said that as elected councillors, they shouldn’t be afraid to report incidents of antisocial behaviour, while Cllr Fred Forsey said they will just have to “get tough” with offenders and let them see that the council is not going to lie down and let them walk all over it.
“If members of the public don’t want to report anti-social behaviour, let them come to us about it,” Mr Forsey said.
Cllr Ann Marie Rossiter said the gardaí have become very active in targeting areas known for antisocial behaviour activity, and there have also been many instances where they had taken alcohol from offenders drinking in public.
The new draft policy dealing with anti-social behaviour has been given the unanimous backing of the councillors, who are determined that it will now be fully enforced “without fear or favour”.