Cllr Pearse McGeough: JPC Public Meeting Useful and Progressive

At a public meeting of the Joint Policing Committee (JPC) for Mid-Louth, Sinn Féin Councillor Pearse McGeough described the meeting as “very useful” and “a progressive way for the public to have their issues heard.”

The meeting was held at the Grove Hotel in Dunleer at the request of Cllr McGeough who is also Chair of the JPC. There was an attendance of around 40 and the proceedings got underway with a minute’s silence for Cameron Reilly who was from the town and was murdered on 26th May this year.

There were presentations from Louth County Council, An Garda Siochána (crime statistics) and on Cyber Crime.

Cllr McGeough said “I wanted to ensure that the public were heard first and foremost, and all those who attended were able to air their views on issues in the area and had the ear of Chief Superintendent Chris Mangan who I feel listened and took it all on board.”

Various issues were raised from drug taking, drug dealing, car parking, unmanned rural Garda stations to general anti-social behaviour.

Cllr McGeough said “there is a huge deficit in resources needed for the Gardaí to carry out their work effectively. Chief Superintendent Mangan was very forthright on that point. For example, if a murder occurs in the County, that is 20% of his budget gone. That is how much resources go into a murder. Now bear in mind, we have had three murders in County Louth this year and as CS Mangan pointed out, we now have the highest murder rate outside of Dublin, not something we can be proud of.”

Cllr Pearse McGeough & Imelda Munster TD

Also present was Imelda Munster TD who towards the end of the meeting told of her frustrations with the Minister as she was fighting for additional Garda resources in the Dáil. Those frustrations were mirrored by CS Mangan who has to justify his ‘overspending’ on a budget that was insufficient to meet the needs of the County.

Cllr McGeough said “people need to feel safe and in order for us all to live in a community where that can happen we need to be pro-active in looking out for each other and work closely with the Gardaí in reporting crimes and encourage our Community Garda to become integrated into our communities. I want to commend the Community Gardaí that we currently have throughout the county, they do great work and their local knowledge is invaluable in investigating local crimes. We need more of them but again, we are back to a resources issue.”

“In short, if we want to live peacefully and safely in our communities we all need to work together, the public, An Garda Siochana, Louth County Council, business owners and anyone who has an interest in where they live or work. I feel that the public took an active role at the meeting and were listened to, I want to thank everyone who attended.”

Minister for Justice failing to tackle crime – Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams commenting on recent statistics from the Central Statistics Office on recorded crime said:

“The CSO recently released its recorded crime statistics for the first three months of this year. The statistics reveal a depressing increase in all crime categories, except murder.

Because of significant concerns about the accuracy of the statistics being recorded by the Garda’s PULSE database it was only decided to release these figures under the category of ‘Statistics Under Reservation’. In other words, the Garda figures cannot be trusted as accurate. This is scandalous.
There is also a widespread belief that the CSO figures underestimate the real level of crime.

The Recorded Crime statistics for Q1 2018 reveals that from sexual offences to assaults, harassment, burglary, fraud and theft there has been a dramatic increase across every category of crime.

Rural communities in Louth are especially vulnerable to burglary and theft. I have attended meetings in the past in the Cooley and Castlebellingham areas where local residents spoke of their experience of being burgled.

In the first three months of this year there were almost 19,000 burglaries, and almost 70,000 thefts across the state, an increase of 8% over last year. There were over six thousand fraud and deception offences – an increase of 16% on 2017.

It is unacceptable that the Garda statistics on crime are so inaccurate that the Central Statistics Office will only publish them with a serious health warning. I have written to the Minister for Justice asking how long he expects this disgraceful situation to continue and when can we expect the public to be given accurate crime statistics?”
 

Cllr Ó Murchú Welcomes CAB Role in Louth

Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has warmly welcomed the clarification about the role of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) at Monday’s joint meeting of the Louth Policing Committees.

Speaking after a private meeting with representatives of CAB, Cllr. Ó Murchú said he was pleased with the accessibility of the bureau outlined at the meeting by Chief Superintendent Patrick Clavin.

Cllr Ó Murchú said “We have a serious problem with organised drug gangs across this county and in particular, Dundalk and Drogheda. The community suffers terribly from the drug dealing, intimidation, arson and the violence of these gangs.  Their extortionate means of drug debt recovery from the families of addicts, backed up with brutality and terror is a huge issue. CAB has operated over the years as a serious tool against organised crime and I welcome any measures that can be taken.

He said: “I was particularly pleased to note that the threshold of assets that can be seized by CAB has been lowered to €5,000 which means that so-called ‘small-time drug dealers’ can also be targeted.”

Councillor Ó Murchú was also concerned “about the figures presented which revealed that Louth has the third highest number of CAB targets in the state after the greater Dublin area and Limerick, which obviously has serious implications for Garda resources in the county.

“To hear Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan frankly admit that he told the Justice Minister as recently as Monday that the budget he has this year is ‘grossly insufficient’ to do what he has to do, is truly shocking and is something that I have already raised with the Sinn Féin team in Leinster House.

“I would hope that we could see the Criminal Assets Bureau operating locally in co-operation with the Gardaí. Successful Garda arrest operations can be difficult in a ‘subcontracted criminal enterprise’ where main players use vulnerable people as their ‘cut outs’ and keep themselves ‘clean’. Many drug dealers are living cash rich and many without intricate money laundering systems and so we would hope this weak point could be used by CAB to disrupt, impact and possibly shut down some of their operations.

“I am also encouraged by the fact the CAB was able to give several reassurances that not only will they take the information they receive seriously but that no-one will have to go to court to give evidence.”

CAB can be contacted on email at ino@cab.ie or at 01 6663266

Kenneth Flood: Reinvigorated Neighbourhood Watch Programme Needed

kenneth-floodSinn Féin Councillor and Chairperson of Drogheda Municipal District Joint Policing Committee Kenneth Flood has called for a reinvigorated Neighbourhood Watch Programme for The Drogheda Municipal District Area.

Cllr. Flood said, “Although there was a drop in the rate of crime in Louth last year we can never become complacent. Crime still needs to be fought and Neighbourhood Watch, Community Alert and Text Alert Schemes give the public their chance to play their part in that fight.
To give an example, one area of South County Dublin saw a 68% drop in the burglary rate after a Neighbourwatch Scheme was set up. That’s a huge achievement.
In figures released last July, in the Louth Garda Division, there were 190 recorded burglary offences. That is still an unacceptable figure. I believe we can cut that figure further by having all areas covered by Neighbourhood Watch, Community Alert or Text Alert Schemes.
I have raised this issue at the Louth Joint Policing Committee Steering Committee and everyone in attendance was in favour of expanding these schemes but the request to start them must come from the residents in any particular area. Residents must be the initiators of any new scheme.

Therefore, I am asking anyone who is interested in beginning a neighbourhood watch scheme or rejuvenating a dormant scheme, to contact me or the community garda’s office so we can begin the process of setting up these schemes and play our part in reducing crime”.

Munster Hits Out At Community Safety Cuts

imelda photo orangeLouth TD Imelda Munster has raised Drogheda District’s community safety concerns at the Dáil with the Minister.

Drogheda district forms part of the Louth division which includes Drogheda, Dunleer and Clogherhead area and Garda stations.

Imelda Munster TD said “In 2010 there were 109 Gardaí assigned to the area however, using an answer I received from the minister, I found that there are now only 95 assigned to the area, 14 less than 2010.

“This week there was an armed robbery at the Post Office in Clogherhead. Despite ringing and pressing the panic button it took 40 mins for Garda to respond, yet the Garda station  is only one minute away. Finding a Garda present in Clogherhead Garda station has become pot luck as there are no official opening times. The same can be said about Dunleer station”.

The Louth TD explained that Drogheda is a large urban town with the same general problems as everywhere else but “it has now come to the stage where some people have completely given up on reporting crime as there appears to be very little in regards to the following up of these complaints”.

“Furthermore, community Gardaí are becoming disengaged and disenfranchised from communities because they’ve been required to perform other duties. You try to reach them by phone, and not unlike the more rural stations in the Drogheda area, its pot luck if you get them”.

“Neighbourhood watch schemes have been shelved. There are current schemes that have been enacted over a year ago, but not implemented. I’m aware of three applications from three estates that haven’t received as much as a phone call, which is worrying to say the least as the implementation of these schemes, would make for a more efficient network”.

Speaking on recent crime in the area, Imelda Munster TD said  “recently, there have been six burglaries carried out in one estate. The culprit was stashing his wares in an adjoining field and returning later to collect them. Despite being filmed doing this, the guards were called and arrested him, but he was never charged.

“This disengagement with communities and community Gardaí is due to a lack of resources and manpower, not the will of the Gardaí who do great work, and who are consistently overstretched and over worked for minimal financial reward.

“It’s common knowledge in Drogheda that there is frequently only one marked car on duty to respond to calls. The Gardaí no longer work in a proactive manner, but rather a reactive one. Morale is now at an all-time low, with many crimes going unreported and unsolved. This needs to change. The Gardaí need both further recruitment and resources to do their job effectively. Turning a blind eye to resourcing community policing has compounded the problems for communities across this state”.

Imelda Munster TD has asked the Minister directly for concrete plans on how he intends to address these issues.