Mountmellick residents who are angry over recent increased numbers of break-ins and thefts, took to the streets last Sunday night August 9.
More than 30 protesters walked from O’Connell Square and marched to the Garda Station on O’Moore Street, which was closed at the time.
One mother of three explained why she took part.
“I marched to show them we are not going to be intimidated. I am afraid to let my ten year old walk to the shop. I am absolutely terrified something is going to happen. We need more Gardaí, people have had enough,” she said.
Crime has reportedly grown in recent months, according to the administrator of facebook page ‘Prevent Crime in Mountmellick/Rosenallis/Clonaslee’, with locals blaming a group of youths.
“There is always crime wherever you go, but this is escalating in one area, around College Avenue, Emmett terrace and Pattison’s Estate. The shortage of guards is the problem,” he said, adding that every incident reported to the page is passed on to Gardaí for investigation.
“I only publish about half the messages people send me, because people are just too afraid to have them posted publically,” said the administrator.
Some residents suggest taking the law into their own hands, to “terrorise these scum” in the words of one female poster.
“People are sick of it. They want to start a vigilante group. I always say to them ‘don’t go for the violence’, and keep persuading them to ring Gardaí, but people say that the gardaí will not help,” he said.
Since the march, Garda Superintendent Joe Prendergast has arranged to meet with some representatives of residents, and Mountmellick Cllr Paddy Bracken, to discuss their concerns.
“I am disappointed that people took to the streets complaining of a lack of garda presence. I am meeting the group on Wednesday to listen to what they have to say, I am anxious to sit down with them, explain what we can do, and work together,” he said.
While declining to comment on individual crimes under investigation, he said all are investigated.
“Every single crime is under investigation, we recently recovered stolen property in Mountmellick. If there is anything you feel the Garda should know about, pick up the phone and ring. There may not always be a Garda in Mountmellick but Portlaoise Garda station is open 24 seven,” Supt Prendergast said.
He warned the public against taking action.
“I would advise people strongly against engaging in any kind of vigilante act, that is not the road to go down,” he said.
Cllr Paddy Bracken will also attend the meeting, which is due to be followed by another march at 7.30pm.
“I fully support the people protesting, I understand their frustration. Fear is the biggest thing out there. The whole thing is a lack of Garda resources, the manpower isn’t there. The Gardaí are doing what they can. To get the resources they need, it needs to be delivered at a political level,” he said.