Gardaí across the country are actively involved in a process of community engagement with boxing clubs in an attempt to engage with sometimes “hard-to-reach” communities.
The scheme under the overall command of Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman and with the sound backing of Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) CEO Fergal Carruth has been ongoing for a number of months and is being described as “a great success so far.”
This countrywide programme involves community gardaí visiting their local boxing clubs to speak with the boxers and volunteers about the important role that gardaí play in the local community and the important role members of Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) clubs can also play in their communities.
The aim of the programme is to act as an early intervention mechanism which can hopefully lead to younger boxers engaging with their local community gardaí in a very positive fashion in a familiar environment.
Another purpose of this program is to help establish stronger links between the gardaí and boxing clubs in areas where social inequality, anti-social behaviour and criminality are serious issues.
Superintendent Michael Corbett of the Garda National Community Engagement Bureau told Independent.ie: “An Garda Síochána are delighted to be building better and stronger relationships with boxing clubs across the country.
“These clubs are brilliant sporting organisations for young people who have an interest in this sport either to keep themselves fit or to box competitively.
“There is brilliant work being done across the country by the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) and An Garda Síochána is delighted to support this work in any way that we can.”
Numerous boxing clubs have been visited by gardaí already including earlier this month when local officers visited the Rudiarius boxing club in Longford to introduce themselves to members of the club.
One of the first boxing clubs visited as part of the initiative was the Holy Family Boxing Club, in Ballsgrove, in Drogheda, Co Louth, which took place in August.
Retired officers as well as serving gardaí of all ranks attended the event which gardaí said at the time was being held in conjunction with the Guerin Report Cross Agency Coordination.
“This engagement Is to breakdown barriers with young people and to improve relations with An Garda Síochána and young people in the Drogheda area,” a spokesperson said at the time.
The spokesperson explained that the Guerin report features up to 70 recommendations and they are linked to various facets of the local community with the gardaí keen to play their part in the effective operation of the report which was commissioned in response to the bitter Drogheda feud which has claimed four lives.
Other boxing clubs recently visited by gardaí as part of the community engagement programme include the Nutgrove Boxing Club in Rathfarnham, Dublin, the Golden Gloves Boxing Club in Churchfield, Cork, the Charleville Boxing Club in Co Cork and the Celtic Eagles club in Briarhill, Co Galway.
Meanwhile the IABA who are working closely with gardaí in the community engagement programme say that: “An Garda Siochana have a rich and proud history of involvement with the organisation” which dates back to 1911.
They say that this started when General Eoin O’Duffy became the second Garda Commissioner after the War Of independence which ended 100 years ago this year.
“It was this work that laid the foundations for the enduring relationship which continues to flourish to this very day,” they say.
“The IABA are extremely proud of the work currently being conducted through the Garda Boxing Club and by the large number of Gardai actively involved with boxing clubs throughout the country.
“The IABA also proudly boast Garda Christina Desmond as an active boxer with our High-Performance Unit and Garda Adam Nolan who was a member of our 2012 Olympic team.”
“To cement and refresh this strong bond a Community Engagement Programme championed by Fergal Carruth CEO for the Irish Athletic Boxing Association and Assistant Garda Commissioner Paula Hillman (Community Engagement) between both organisations has been launched.”