Hundreds of Portarlington people are calling for the Garda station to be opened full time and for extra Gardaí, following a recent crime wave.
A petition begun last Thursday by Port resident Mary Tuckey already had 469 signatures by Monday September 1, such is the concern over the lack of garda presence in the second biggest Laois town.
“A garda station open a few hours a day is unacceptable for a town with a population of 10,000 people and where anti social behaviour is rife. We demand more Garda presence patrolling our streets,” says Ms Tucket, who plans to bring the petition in person to Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.
In recent weeks the town was hit by crime.A resident of St Brigid Square was assaulted by an intruder who climbed in through an upstairs window at night. A clock erected by the Dirty Old Towns group on a roundabout was broken by vandals to the cost of €500.
On Station Road three dogs were killed by pitt bulls released into gardens in the early hours of Monday August 18, which locals fear was an effort to prime houses for theft.
Port community volunteer Ann Dunne is backing the call for more Gardaí, and seeking volunteers to go door to door with the petition.
“Everyone has the same opinion. There have been a lot of break-ins and attempted break-ins. A lot of elderly people are terrified,” she said.
Superintendent Joe Prendergast says they are aware of concerns and trying to give “the best possible service with the resources available”,
“We have spoken to the local community and will contine to meet them,” he said.
He welcomed the 100 new Gardai beginning training this month, the first since 2009, as a “positive development”.
Port station has 12 Gardaí he said.
“We do our utmost to open from 10am to 1pm and 8pm to 9pm. We are doing our best to solve recent crimes. I can assure people they are being fully investigated,” he said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Portarlington station at 873 0580, or Portlaoise at 8674100.