Only one garda car on patrol
By Maurice Garvey
GOVERNMENT cutbacks have led to Ballyfermot having one garda patrol car – a situation local representatives believe would not wash in more affluent areas of the city.
Speaking at the recent joint policing meeting, Clondalkin Superintendent Brendan Connolly confirmed there is just one patrol car for Ballyfermot, one for Clondalkin and one for Rathcoole.
He said the policing district also has two patrol vans, unmarked cars, and continues to share vehicles with other areas at times.
“It is a large district, we have been told we are getting more – when, we don’t know,” said Supt Connolly.
At the policing meeting, the issue of large gangs of youths causing trouble was a prime focus for residents, who claim there is a lack of garda presence on the streets.
Ballyfermot Station has 58 gardai attached, working over five shifts.
Questioned why they never see them on patrol, Supt Connolly told residents that a lot of recent additions are new recruits and need to be trained in.
“My biggest difficulty is finding enough people to train them,” he said.
“As soon as we get them, we lose them (transfers, promotions etc), some have been here a long time. It is a rebuilding process but we are getting there.”
Meanwhile, some homeowners told The Echo they are considering moving out of the area due an escalation of anti-social activity.
Intimidating passers by, vandalising private property, threatening elderly people and women in front of their own homes, are just some of the sinister elements facing residents from out of control youths particularly anyone who dares to confront them or speak out.
Youth workers in the area have recently started to operate later in the evenings to engage young people, making some inroads into the issue.
Kylemore resident Stephen Hogan, wrote a letter last month to all local representatives and gardai in relation to the “deterioration” in social civility.
Mr Hogan, who has lived in the area for 11 years, said he is now “dedicating his life to getting out.”
In late April, his taxi was smashed up by thugs after he confronted youths for stealing and setting on fire wheelie bins, while there have been multiple thefts of his wife’s bicycle and nephew’s motorcycle.
“I’m down about €3,700, had to get CCTV into the house. The first bike was robbed last year, but it is still cycled in the area.
“For years, I used to go over to the park and ask kids to stop throwing bottles, told them to put them beside my wall and I’ll bring them to the bottle bank. But nowadays, it is a lot more sinister. A neighbour went over to them after they fired aerosol cans at his dogs and they said ‘what are you going to do’.
Hogan is organising a resident’s day in Kylemore later this month.
“It is going to take all residents. It’s not just about us, it’s about parents of these kids. We will have a BBQ, lemonade, I don’t even know some of my neighbours.”
Cllr Daithi Doolan said he was shocked to discover Ballyfermot lost another four gardai at a time of “increased drug finds, burglaries, gangs and anti social behaviour.”
He called on Minister for Justice, Charlie Flannagan, to reverse garda cuts to 2008 levels.
Brid Smith TD, believes a working group, similar to what was recently set up in Drimnagh, is required to tackle local anti-social problems.
“It does not involve politicians, but gives autonomy to residents,” she said.