The residents of Balbriggan are rising up against antisocial behaviour in their community and gathered outside Balbriggan Garda Station recently to demand action against 'youth gangs' and the trouble they cause in the town.
The protest was organised on social media and got a big response from locals with a huge turnout for the protest. A petition was distributed calling for more policing resources to be allocated to the town to thwart a growing problem with antisocial behaviour from large gangs of youth.
Cllr Malachy Quinn (SF) attended the protest which was organised by local resident, Shane Byrne.
Cllr Quinn said: 'Every member of Balbriggan society was represented there and representatives of every residents' association were there. I think it came out of a genuine worry there is out there in relation to antisocial behaviour taking place in the town.'
Hundreds of people attended the protest on a cold November evening in Balbriggan.
Cllr Quinn said it was important to say that it was 'only a small minority of young people in the town that cause trouble'. He said: 'Balbriggan is a good town and the vast majority of your youth are well behaved.' With that said, Cllr Quinn felt the protest showed that 'residents have just had enough and are ready to support any initiative at all that might tackle the problem'.
Niall Keady, a prominent member of the local community called for the town to pull together on the issue as they did when they ran a successful campaign to retain the town's library. That campaign spawned Balbriggan Community Council and Mr Keady believes that should be the body to co-ordinate the response to Balbriggan's to these issues. He said: 'We again as a community need to come together and call on Balbriggan Community Council to unite the people of Balbriggan, Councillors, TDs, businesses and gardaí and organise and emergency public meeting to address our concerns.'
Call for multi-agency approach to deal with issues
Calls have been made for a for multi-agency approach to the future development of Balbriggan.
Sinn Fein councillor Malachy Quinn said there should be a particular focus on the eonomic development, integration, social inclusion, policing provision and youth services.
'We have a great community in Balbriggan, where new and old neighbours look out for each other, but for a community to work, we must have a collective approach.'
He said the lack of gardai in the area had been a concern for everyone, which, he added, was borne out in the 'instances of anti-social behaviour which occur far too often'
'The closure of Rush Garda Station and the reduction in supports for a variety of services in the youngest town in the State has resulted in an increase in anti-social activity.'
Cllr Quinn stated that additional Gardai would of course have a role in dealing with this issue but that there was a need for a multi-agency approach involving the local authority, youth services, the Department of Health and Children.
'The many great community, sporting and voluntary groups, all working hard behind the scenes in Balbriggan, deserve our fullest support. So no one should be allowed to damage that work. It is important that people make their voice heard that we demand more investment in Gardai and services for our town.'
'One of the first measures to be undertaken should be the re-opening of Rush Garda Station, which would provide supports to An Garda Siochána.'
Cllr Quinn concluded: 'As a region with the youngest population, it is vital that investment should reflect this.'