Fianna Fáil councillor Tim Brosnan also called for a change in legislation that would allow local authority managers to evict so-called tenants from hell on the word of a Garda superintendent.
Mr Brosnan was speaking as he told Cork City Council that the atmosphere of fear created by “bullyboys” in some estates in Mayfield was “no different to Derry during the worst of the Troubles”.
Councillors discussed the surge in anti-social and criminal activity in the northside suburb, which in recent months has seen two families forced to flee their homes, an arson attack on a school for children with autism, and a woman assaulted by a gang wielding golf clubs.
Residents who have spoken out have also been subjected to threats, intimidation, and attacks. One woman who spoke out has had the windows of her house smashed.
As residents met gardaí at a community meeting in Mayfield on Monday, councillors in City Hall backed a motion from Worker’s Party councillor Ted Tynan calling on the Government to provide more resources for community policing in the area.
They also backed his motion calling for a multi-agency approach involving gardaí, City Hall’s housing unit, the Department of Social Welfare and Tusla, to crack down on the minority responsible.
However, Mr Brosnan went a step further and said gardaí should be given special powers to arrest and detain the ring-leaders for up to a week.
“It would be a mild version of internment,” he said.
“I’m not talking about locking them up for any significant length of time — just enough for the community to feel what it’s like to be an ordinary community.
“These people should be taken off the scene, they should be split up, the leaders identified and taken to court.
“When residents see that these people are being lifted they’ll have more confidence themselves. Residents are just too afraid to complain at the moment.”
Mr Brosnan said that while the problem is confined to just three or four estates, the issue is “drawing a shadow across the entire community”.
“We’re talking about 30 or 40 young fellas. They seems to be causing terror. The residents are afraid to complain to gardaí or to the city council,” he said.
“I think garda superintendents should be given the powers, in situations like this, to lift the people involved off the street, put them away in a secure location for up to a week while they deal with the matter, so residents can get on with their lives.”
However, he said City Hall also needs to improve its management of certain council estates, where scenes of dereliction and illegal dumping reminded him of scenes from Aleppo or Basra.
“If we are seen not to care about it, some tenants will take a similar attitude; 99% of local authority tenants are perfectly good citizens. You just have the bad few that are making life hell for everybody,” said Mr Brosnan.