Report on the JPC Public Meeting – The Bee Park, Manorhamilton, 3rd May 2018 at 7:30 pm
Concerns for the safety of young and old were foremost at the recent public meeting of Leitrim’s Joint Policing Committee in Manorhamilton earlier in the month.
Chaired by Cllr Sinéad Guckian, the meeting opened with an outline of the functions of the JPC in providing a forum for consultation, discussion and recommendations for policing and crime prevention in the county. In this context and in keeping with the theme of the meeting, Garda Noel Lee, Juvenile Liaison Officer for Sligo and Leitrim, gave a short presentation to the audience that outlined what happens when a young person gets in trouble with the authorities and his role in helping them make more positive choices. Garda Lee also gave us a quick rundown of some of pitfalls for young people on the internet and how our awareness can help.
Use Your Brains Not Your Fists – Leitrim Comhairle na nÓg national safety campaign
Ned Sweeney and Arlene Beirne, members of Comhairle na nÓg Liatroma introduced their video, produced with Lough Bó Films, Use Your Brain Not Your Fists. The production was sanctioned by their 2017 AGM to raise awareness of the dangers of random violence after the tragic death of young Leitrim man, Andrew Dolan. The video also features Shane Grogan and his family: Mr Grogan is paralysed and brain damaged after an unprovoked attack in 2012. Rosie Dolan, mother of Andrew, addressed the meeting praising the fantastic work of the members of Leitrim Comhairle na nÓg saying they were a credit to themselves and to the county. The short film was watched in silent attention and all the Steering Committee commented on its power, even after repeated viewings and urged the audience to share widely. Supt. English remarked that the work of the video could save an unknown number of lives. The emotion in the room was palpable.
Cllr Guckian thanked the contributors and allowed a moment before continuing the business of the meeting.
How frequently do the Gardai check the buses travelling to and from underage discos in our county for:
(2) The carriage of alcohol on board the buses (including in the luggage compartments). Recently a bus travelling from the North of the county was detected in County Donegal travelling to an underage disco with a quantity on alcohol stored on Board;
(3) How satisfied are the Garda Authorities that a few rogue drivers are not involved in the sale of alcohol to underage passengers?
(4) A recent RSA report highlighted that in the region of 50% of buses engaged in school transport were found to be defective. Are the Garda Authorities satisfied with the road worthiness of the vehicles transporting our young people to discos in our county?
Chief Supt. Glackin and Supt. English contributed to the response using the example of an underage disco in Carrick on Shannon.
From a policing point of view the venue is licensed for 1800 people. There is a Garda presence at the event and at the last event 34 individuals were removed from buses having taken alcohol. This is a small percentage (<2 %) of the overall attendance. No alcohol is available at the venue and the Gardai work closely with the venue to ensure a safe and enjoyable night for everyone. The venue provides funds for Garda coverage at events and medical staff and an ambulance on site. This is to prevent frontline services being diverted to the underage disco.
A Special Operations Plan is drawn up by Gardai for every single event. The Gardai know the number of tickets sold prior to the event. They have the names of the bus drivers. Upon arrival, each bus is boarded and a count of passengers is undertaken to ensure there has been no overcrowding. This also provides for a search. No loitering is allowed at the venue and anyone who doesn’t have a ticket is detained on the bus. There are 4 sergeants and 10 gardai at each event. While roadworthiness of buses is not specified, a bus that was not up to standard is unlikely to pass notice. In addition to the above, many parents bring their teenagers and stay on site waiting to bring them home.
Questions from the Floor:
Cllr Guckian then opened the meeting to questions from the floor. Many of the public inputs were comments on the presentation and video shown earlier – commending the production and civic spirit of all concerned and asking that everyone shares the video as widely as possible. In answer to one comment Fiona Taylor of North Connaught Youth Services informed the meeting that the video would be shown in all Leitrim second level schools and that discussions with the Dept. of Education and Skills were positive and ongoing regarding a national rollout of the video.
Two of the public contributions focussed strongly on elderly people’s fears and lack of garda presence. One contributor told the meeting of a senior couple known to her that lock their front door and then their bedroom door at night, which is obviously dangerous.
Supt. English advised that the statistics showed a 50% decrease in burglaries in the Manorhamilton area. This had been achieved through intelligence that showed that roughly one third each of burglaries had been carried out by locals, criminals coming from other areas and criminals crossing the border. The introduction of CCTV in the Manorhamilton area was discussed with reference to a widening of CCTV across North Leitrim.
Cllr Fallon referred to the text alert schemes that advise people to Keep a Lookout for (KLO. He suggested that while this was good, there could be better follow up to advise when the need for KLO had passed. The JPC Steering Committee agreed that this would be a good use of the text alerts.
The next meeting of the Joint Policing Committee is scheduled for 1st October 2018.
Joint Policing Committee Steering Group: Cllr Sinead Guckian, Chairperson; Lar Power, CE, Leitrim County Council; Mary Quinn, Director of Services, Leitrim County Council; Garda Chief SuperIntendent for Sligo-Leitrim, Aidan Glackin; Gda Superintendent Kevin English, and Gda Inspector Denis Harrington of Carrick on Shannon.
Cllrs in attendance: Cathaoirleach Cllr F Armstrong-McGuire, Cllr M Bohan, Cllr F Dolan, Cllr P Fallon, Cllr F Gurn, Cllr S McDermott, Cllr J Warnock.