“Scum” according to Chairman Pat Bowe’s were terrorizing Mountmellick.
So claimed Town Councillors at their monthly meeting last Thursday night. He insisted: “We have to take our town back.”
Cllr Marc Connolly: “People are talking about setting up vigilante groups. People are fed up.”
Cllr Denis O’Mara: “We have no policing in this town. It’s not a Garda Station. It’s a depot for Eircom. Elderly and middle aged people are afraid and nervous to walk in town, especially after dark.”
Cllr Stephen Lynch: “People are afraid to open their doors. It’s gone out of control completely.”
Cllr Ollie Payne: “They are afraid to go to the ATM machine.”
Cllr Connolly said people could not believe it when the Garda Traffic Corps recently “blitzed” Mountmellick with parking tickets yet were not available when they were really needed.
Adopted unanimously was Cllr Michael Gormley’s proposal, seconded by Cllr Ollie Payne, that the Town Council should seek a meeting with the Garda Commissioner to discuss the situation.
Also agreed unanimously was Cllr Rosemary Whelan’s proposal, seconded by Cllr Connolly, that a civilian officer should be appointed to Mountmellick Garda Station.
Cllr Paddy Bracken: “At the end of the day it’s down to resources.” He said a phonecall had cancelled a scheduled meeting that morning with the Garda Superintendent. He added: “That’s not acceptable.”
Cllr Connolly thought if necessary a squad car should be dispatched from Portlaoise to deal with incidents in Mountmellick.
Cllr O’Mara accused the culprits of harassing and accosting people. He told of knowing one man who at home and in his car kept a hurl as a defensive weapon. Mountmellick was supposed to have a Sergeant and four Gardai. But, he claimed, the town hadn’t a Garda visibility, didn’t have a foot patrol.
Cllr Gormley: “The sad thing about it is that it is bad publicity, bad for the town. It’s a bad set-up that a small group of people can hold the whole town to ransom--can intimidate people coming out of Mass. Clergy are being intimitated. People are afraid to walk down the town for a social evening, for bingo.”
Cllr Whelan: “We don’t want the good name of the town to be tarnished by a certain group of individuals.”
Cllr Lynch: “At the end of the day this has to come to a stop.” He alleged that one person had been assaulted in the Square.
Cllr Payne said he himself had carried a hurl in his car while his daughter and grandchild were visiting the doctor. He believed it was a “nonsensical” situation to have seven or eight people acting as “bold as brass” in the town.
Cllr Bobby Delaney said the “thugs” had intimidated an 82-years-old man as he was getting a newspaper after coming out of Sunday Mass. And in College Avenue a car was wrecked.
Chairman Bowe: “This situation cannot be allowed to continue--cannot continue with no Guards in the town. There are people so fed up that they are talking about taking the law into their own hands. Business people are afraid to stay open after 4pm when it gets dark. People cannot park in the Square. People rang the chemist asking could they get their prescriptions in Portlaoise.”
Cllr O’Mara said men working on the Christmas tree had to save the person who was being assaulted in The Square.
Cllr Connolly suggested finding out how many houses in Mountmellick the Probation Service had on its books. He believed that the landlords of these houses were not living in the town.