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Communities under siege; vandalism, rows, drug dealing; and ram raids. Such incidents are becoming all too common in towns and villages throughout the country.
Newspaper reports tell of “gurriers” and “hoodlums” making housing estates “no-go” areas, while court cases detail stolen cars, street rows and broken jaws, break-ins, youths setting fire to cars, underage drinking and increased use of “hard” drugs such as heroin, right across the country.
At present many people are feeling insecure in their homes, are afraid to walk the streets at night and are worried about their property or businesses being targeted. The first step to addressing any problem is to face up to it before it gets out of control. Only then can we find answers.
At the core of the solution is Garda manpower and resources. There have been complaints about the lack of gardaí on the beat. It is not simply or solely a Garda problem; they require the support, confidence and co-operation of the community.
All the indications are that manning levels need to be increased while the policy and nature of policing should also be reviewed. I compliment an Garda Síochána for their efforts to protect people and property, despite curtailment in resources.
Parents have to face up to their responsibilities. the number of juveniles coming before the courts has increased.
Community support in general is needed. Community leaders and residents can no longer turn a blind eye. They need to take a stance against anti-social behaviour and co-operate with the gardaí in their work. The judicial system must also fulfil its central role in ensuring that the culprits, particularly repeat offenders, are dealt with firmly and fairly in a bid to lessen the frustration, fear and sense of helplessness that many victims feel.
Collective action must be taken before the situation gets completely out of control. A small minority of people should not be allowed to strike fear into their localities and give their communities a bad reputation.
Cllr Noel Collins
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