Monday 19 August 2019

Senator Catherine Noone defends 'publicity stunt' appearance at Coolock 'gangland crime' meeting

Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, Minister Finian McGrath and Senator Catherine Noone at Coolock Garda Station. Photo: Independent News & Media
Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, Minister Finian McGrath and Senator Catherine Noone at Coolock Garda Station. Photo: Independent News & Media

Áine Kenny

Senator Catherine Noone has defended her presence at a key local security meeting in Coolock after it was branded as a “shameful publicity stunt”.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Senator Noone responded to the claims that she was trying to boost her profile in the area, saying; "I will apologise to no one for doing my job."

Senator Noone will run alongside Richard Bruton in the Dublin Bay North area in the next general election. The community meeting was held to discuss gangland crime in the area.

Ms Noone is a senator on the Industrial and Commercial Panel. For this reason, many people took to Twitter to highlight that Ms Noone is not an elected representative of Coolock. There were a number of local councillors and TDs absent from the meeting.

One person wrote online; "You're trying to get elected in Dublin Bay North. You wouldn't have gone to this event otherwise."

The Senator replied; "I don’t deny that for a second."

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin hit out at the meeting, saying; "It was a photo op for a local Fine Gael team. No elected councillors or TDs were invited, as far as I am aware.

"It’s an election stunt. If you are serious about solving an issue, you meet with local community groups, the local drugs taskforce, and local residents groups, you set up a taskforce.

"All issues need to be trashed out over weeks and months, not over one day. The election ticket was the priority here."

Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Bay North Denise Mitchell said she too was not invited to attend the meeting.

"It’s disappointing. We would be on the ground, it would be important for us to be there to represent the local people," she told Independent.ie.

"We received no communication about this whatsoever. I am constantly raising parliamentary questions, I have written to the Garda Commissioner about a new Garda station on the north fringe."

Meanwhile, local Fianna Fáil Councillor Tom Brabazon said that he was also not invited.

"I received no communication. It’s strange as we would have been in touch with the Minister’s office and the Garda Commissioner’s Office," he said.

He said he was also surprised to see who attended the event.

"It is sickening that people are using these dreadful circumstances to climb a career ladder."

Senator Noone defended herself, saying it is no secret she is running for general election in the Dublin Bay North Area and it is a matter of public record.

Ms Noone told Independent.ie that she asked Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan could she attend the event in Coolock.

When asked about the claims it was a cynical move to boost her profile in the area, she said; "This couldn’t be further from the reality of the situation. I sought to go along to the meeting with the minister when he intended to go to the area, because it’s the area I am trying to represent."

Senator Noone added it was "100% misguided and inaccurate" to think that her attendance at the event was for publicity.

"Any attempt to portray it as something other than a genuine attempt to reassure locals and engage with stakeholders is in my view ridiculous. 

The senator said she was "so used" to taking negative commentary.

"I don’t take any of it personally… when you understand it is really just people who are politically aligned, having a go; you know you just learn to just ignore it," she said.

When asked about the community meeting, Ms Noone said; "This meeting was held under the umbrella of the Northside Partnership and involved representatives of various community initiatives in the Coolock, Darndale and Clongriffin areas, local school principals, local Gardaí and local residents.

"It is open to any politician to seek to engage with local Garda management on issues of concern."

"Minister Flanagan frequently encourages such dialogue and, in particular, the Minister is a strong supporter of Local Joint Policing Committees which I commend.

"I will continue to work with Minister Flanagan on these issues to the benefit of the people of Coolock, Darndale and Clongriffin."

At the community meeting, it was confirmed that gardaí were in talks with Dublin City Council to build a new Garda station in Northern Cross.

The area will also receive 30 new gardaí.

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