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.”
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.”