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Judge under fire over remarks on Tallaght crime

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 Former TD Charlie O'Connor has challenged Judge Anthony Halpin (inset) over comments. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Former TD Charlie O'Connor has challenged Judge Anthony Halpin (inset) over comments. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Former TD Charlie O'Connor has challenged Judge Anthony Halpin (inset) over comments. Photo: Caroline Quinn

A FORMER TD has challenged the judge who said that Tallaght is on the verge of social meltdown to come for a stroll with him anywhere, anytime, in the sprawling suburb.

Fianna Fail's Charlie O'Connor, (67), who has lived in Tallaght for 45 years, threw down the gauntlet yesterday after District Court Judge Anthony Halpin said the Civil Defence might have to be called in to assist gardai in keeping order over what he described as "a total breakdown of social order" in the south Dublin community of approximately 700,000.

His comments came following two vicious murders in the area since New Year's Eve.

 

ANGER

But the remarks elicted anger and surprise by local residents, businesses and politicians who said they were "over the top".

Mr O'Connor said: "If anybody wants to walk around Tallaght with me, including the judge, they're very welcome.

"It's not to say there aren't difficulties as there are in every community throughout the country. And in fairness to the judge, he was responding to the cases that he hears in his court and there has been in that regard," he told the Herald.

"But people in Tallaght are saying 'this is where we live and this is where we work and we're not aware of this'."

In fact, the most recent crime figures from the Central Statistics Office show that crime has actually decreased in the area, with the number of assaults and attempted murders down by more than a third from 429 in 2002 to 278 in 2012.

Controlled drug offences also dropped by more than half from a peak of 992 in 2008 to 453 in 2012 while thefts were also down by more than 50pc from 2,500 in 2004 to 1,211 in 2012.

In response to a parliamentary question on the issue in the Dail yesterday, junior minister Paschal Donohoe said he has been assured by Justice Minister Alan Shatter that the 174 gardai assigned to the Tallaght sub-district, as well as 14 garda reserve and 11 civilian staff are ample.

He also said the role of Civil Defence, a voluntary organisation, "do not extend to policing".

Dublin South West TD Eamonn Maloney called the judge's remarks "hysterical".

hnews@herald.ie


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