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Councillors seek ‘same support’ from Louth County Council as they have received from Gardaí over attacks on women in Drogheda

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Cllr Michelle Hall, Superintendent Andrew Watters and Cllr Joanna Byrne

Cllr Michelle Hall, Superintendent Andrew Watters and Cllr Joanna Byrne

Cllr Michelle Hall, Superintendent Andrew Watters and Cllr Joanna Byrne

droghedaindependent

A meeting between Superintendent Andrew Watters and Councillors Joanna Byrne and Michelle Hall took place last week to address the ongoing issues of attacks on women in Drogheda.

The meeting took place in the Drogheda Garda Station, highlighting key areas of concern for women accessing the outdoors. 

Some of the issues raised involved the safety of women walking down lanes such as Meat Market Lane and the steps in Drogheda, which are pedestrian routes to residential areas.

The two female Councillors expressed the need for additional uniformed Gardaí during the day and night, less public drinking on the streets and in St. Dominic’s Park, along with queried gender-based violence in Drogheda.

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“On foot of the recent reports of stalking and assaults in the media, we thought it was important to take a proactive approach and work with local Gardaí to see what we can do to make the streets safer for women,” said Cllr Hall. 

"Firstly, we were relieved to hear that these reports are isolated incidents, with arrests made in some cases.

“Supt. Watters informed us that at the moment, there are no trends of gender based or homophobic violence on the streets of Drogheda. However, they have both uniformed and plain clothes Gardaí patrolling the streets and the Boyne Greenway," said Cllr Hall.

Cllr Byrne added, “We highlighted how fear was escalating, particularly amongst older women who are coming out of cocooning from the last couple of years and are probably a bit anxious anyway, and then they're hearing about this type of stuff. 

"We went through a list of issues and ‘hotspots' where CCTV doesn't cover and where various patrols could be increased. 

"Supt Watters was all over this and recognised that there was a bit of fear brewing and he wanted to put that to bed straight away and reaffirm to the public that An Garda Síochána are taking this very seriously. Patrols will be increased in the areas that we suggested and there were some further efforts that came out that perhaps where the council might need to cut back the bushes to increase visibility where sight lines are being blocked. 

"As always Superintendent Watters was very supportive and offered his support to us and anything we need to bring these things to his attention and said he'll work with us morning, noon and night to put people's fears to bed.”

Gardaí are being trained to carry out mountain bike patrols and Community Gardaí are establishing a list of hotspots to target such areas where there is illegal public drinking. 

Cllr Hall continued, “We want to ensure that women can walk safely to their homes and at the moment, places like the steps at Highfield are overgrown and dark, even on a summer’s evening. We’ve requested that An Garda Síochána liaise with Louth County Council to make these pedestrian ways brighter and therefore feel safer.

"Meat Market Lane often has gangs loitering or men urinating in public. Considering this is just off the main thoroughfare, this is unacceptable. It is reassuring to know that most of the main streets in Drogheda town centre have fully working CCTV. If an incident does occur or if women feel unsafe, they should ring 999 as soon as they can.

“Overall, we were reassured that our concerns were listened to and hotspots will be addressed. As councillors, we also know the role Louth County Council will have to play in ensuring that the public realm is a safe place for women and designed for gender going forward.

"In the 21st century, we should have public toilets, bright lights, clean streets and a town that looks cared for. All this has a positive psychological affect on women who feel safer and don’t restrict their movements. We don’t think that’s a lot to ask for in a modern, democratic and first world society,” concluded Cllrs Hall and Byrne.

The next steps are going forward will see the Drogheda female councillors bring these results and discussions to Louth County Council at the next Drogheda Municipal meeting to reaffirm that the meeting took place and these issues need to be taken seriously. 

"We want the same support from the council that we're getting from the Gardaí,” added Joanna. 

The Community Policing Unit has already been re-enforced with additional resources. Many community guards have the highlighted areas on their route/patrol. 

The Community Policing Unit meet on a daily basis with Superintendent Watters or Chief Super Alan McGovern. 

If a trend appears, or an area where there are repeated complaints or attacks, additional resources will be channelled specifically into that area. 


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