Monday 18 December 2017

Residents are living under siege

Householders in St Joseph's Terrace area are 'intimidated by a criminal gang' who terrorise the community

A “safe space” is to be created for residents of St Joseph’s Terrace who feel “under siege” from a gang living there.

Superintendent Mary Murray told a Joint Policing Committee meeting in Ballymote last Friday that the Garda would be “most keen” to help set up a resident’s forum to allow residents voice their concerns.

Councillor Chris MacManus had asked for a multi-agency Community Safety Task Force be set up to cover St Joseph’s Terrace and surrounding areas. He told the meeting that there are incidents of anti-social behaviour, intimidation and threats, bonfires and dog control in the area because a small number of houses were under the influence of a “certain gang”.

“Locals won’t report crime out of a climate of fear. They feel under siege and let down by the state agencies,” he told Garda representatives at the meeting.

Superintendent Murray said many agencies were actively involved in St Joseph’s Terrace, including Sligo County Council, the Department of Social Protection, the Revenue Commissioners, Tusla, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Mental Health Services, Licenced Vintners from the business community and local county councillors. She said they were concerning issues of child protection, noise pollution, traffic issues, environmental issues among others.

Superintendent Murray insisted there was an “active Garda presence” in St Joseph’s Terrace including foot patrols, Mountain Bike patrols, car patrols and the Regional Support Unit but added that “we can always do with more”.

“There is room for looking at a Residents Forum or Community Alert and the Garda would be most keen to do that,” she told Cllr MacManus.

She said that the Garda had regular liaison with the Local Authority over CCTV and “there is work being done behind the scenes now about that.”

Regarding drugs, she said that there had been “numerous pieces of activity, not only in that area.”

Cllr MacManus replied that the issue had been ongoing around a small number of people for over 20 years. “We’re now into the second or third generation of people involved in anti-social behaviour. It has become a way of life,” he said.

“The residents are so down trodden none of them want to see a Garda at their door for fear of intimidation,” he said. “They just want to close their door and hunker down. They’ve said ‘please don’t come to my house – they know the emnity out there. It’s going to be exceptionally difficult to engage with the residents. We need to create a safe place away from the street and some joined-up thinking to look at the issues on that street,” he added.

He said there was a “sense of fear” in the community and the residents would not engage with the statutory agencies. “I hate having to say that in a public forum but there’s a level of intimidation.”

Superintendent Murray said the Gardaí “had been proactive” and a number of people had been “before the courts.”

She also said “additional budgets have been allocated to patrolling the general area.”

“The Gardaí would be very anxious to work with residents and support them. There is ongoing support in particular with the Local Authority and with animal welfare,” she added. Chair of the JPC meeting Councillor Rosaleen O’Grady welcomed the fact that Superintendent Murray “clearly said she would provide a safe space for people to voice their concerns.”

Sligo Champion

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