Thursday 17 January 2019

'Anti-social children' named at meeting on crime

Niall Collins at the meeting
Niall Collins at the meeting

Conor Feehan and Philip Ryan

A list with the names and addresses of a number of children accused of anti-social behaviour was circulated at a community meeting to discuss criminal activity.

The document - which was circulated at a meeting of 60 residents at the Fettercairn Community Centre in Tallaght, Dublin - contained the names of 15 boys, aged from 13 to 18 years, and their addresses.

Many parents of those named on the list denied their sons were involved in any anti-social or criminal behaviour and said they now fear they will be targeted by vigilantes.

One mother whose son's name was on the list said her family were now "living in fear". "We have been told we will be burned out of our house, and that kids will be dragged into vans. We are now living in fear," she said.

Another parent said: "It is shocking to think that anyone could do this, putting the names of children on a list and circulating it saying they are criminals. My son's name should not be on that list, but now he has been branded in the community."

Typed

The meeting last Wednesday was organised by Fianna Fáil. The party last night distanced itself from the development and said it did not know who circulated the typed sheets.

The party's justice spokesman, Niall Collins, who hosted the meeting, said he did not have a "clue" where the list came from and said he did not know any of the teenagers named.

The Limerick TD said if he was given the list he would have passed it on to gardaí.

"What I advised people at the meeting is if they have issues, they need to bring it to the attention of gardaí through proper channels and they need to document it as well," he said.

"The community needs to engage with the gardaí. It's a two-way process," he added.

A manager in the centre who spotted the lists destroyed them when they were found, but it is unclear how many people may have picked one up or seen it elsewhere.

The gathering was held to discuss burglaries and drug-related crime, and residents raised concerns about anti-social behaviour, break-ins and vandalism.

At the often-heated meeting, residents were critical of what they saw as a failure by politicians and gardaí to tackle anti-social behaviour.

One mother, whose son was on the list, said: "Yes, people are concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour in the area, and they are right to be, but this list is the wrong way to go about solving it.

"The local sergeant has told me that they are aware of reports of older teens in the area preying on the younger ones to deliver drugs and things for them.

"They say they will burn their mother's cars if they don't do it, but then if the younger ones do what the older ones tell them out of fear, then they are asked to keep doing it, and then the next thing is they are on a list like this and there are vigilantes at the door," she added.

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes said parties should be "very careful" not to name people at public meetings.

"Any of these type of things need to go to gardaí - they are the only appropriate people to investigate issues of anti-social behaviour," he said.

One parent called for CCTV footage to be reviewed to identify who circulated the list.

Irish Independent

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