Crime puts rural communities on alert

A LOCAL councillor has warned rural communities to follow the lead of Emo, The Heath, Ballyroan and many others to revive their community alerts.

A LOCAL councillor has warned rural communities to follow the lead of Emo, The Heath, Ballyroan and many others to revive their community alerts.

Cllr Tom Mulhall’s call comes in the wake of a large number of robberies and violent incidents across the county over the past few weeks from Vicarstown, Fisherstown, Timahoe, Portlaoise and Ballyroan. Cllr Mulhall told the Leinster Express that in the past week, three houses in Vicarstown and Fisherstown were robbed.

“There is a resurgence in community alerts, they are very important in rural areas. People need to be more observant,” he said.

In common with other areas, Cllr Mulhall said that the location of these houses may have led to them being targeted by thieves.

“It is so close to the motorway there, people can come into the area quickly and go quickly with nobody noticing. Garda resources are tight, they are doing a good job but they can’t be in every townsland or parish at the same time. The Emo community alert was set up last March and is working very well,” he said.

The few months have seen a number of rural areas revive their community alerts, including Ballyroan, Woodenbridge and The Heath, with Ratheniska and Crettyard also launching as well.

Noel McCarthy, community alert development officer with Muintir na Tire told the Leinster Express that Laois is very strong for community alerts, with approximately 28 around the county. “Community alerts are not magic and they do need the support of the whole community,” he said. “It is about neighbours looking after each other, and if they think something doesn’t fit in in their community, to do something about it.”

The Heath saw 300 people turn up to their recent community alert meeting, which covers a wide area including Ballynolan, Kilmurray, Garryduff, Corrigeen, Ballydavis, Shane, Straboe and Derrygarron. The group recently purchased a community alarm system, which allows anyone registered to send a text message to the alert monitor. When received the monitor will relay the message to all the other hundreds of users.

Ratheniska will be holding a community alert meeting tonight, Wednesday January 18 at 8pm in the village’s GAA clubhouse and hope to elect a committee and officers. Organisers are urging all households in the area to attend. Meanwhile Raheen will be holding a community alert meeting in the ICA hall in Raheen on Monday, January 30 at 8.30pm. Everyone is welcome to attend and can contact Kevin Lalor Fitzpatrick for more information on 087 9614235.

The Community Alert group covering the Doonane and Mayo areas will be relaunched on Friday, February 10 at 8pm in the Technical School, Newtown and will be attended by Noel McCarthy from Muintir na Tire. Everyone from the locality is welcome to attend and those who wish to register to the community alert system can join by texting their name and location to 089 428 4413.