Big rural crime fears
THERE was a mood of uncertainty among residents at last week’s public meeting in Ballacolla when Chief Superintendent Scanlon met with them to discuss the closure of Ballacolla Garda Station.
There were many questions on the night but not all people received the answers they were looking for.
“Robbery is the number one subject here since the station closed. We have had a couple of incidents in a week”, said one resident.
“As an old person, are there resources available to compensate for the fact that criminals now know Ballacolla is vunerable?” asked another.
“I hear all the cars are clapped out, will there be a new fleet of cars?” was another concern of residents, who were told that there is one marked and one plain Garda car in Abbeyleix which will cover the area.
One man asked what would happen to the station building now that is it closed. “It is a sad state of affairs that you said you might need the hall here for use by the Gardaí and the station building is up the road. I do have sympathy for you coming here to explain someone elses’ decision” he said.
Another man spoke about the great knowledge and links to the community that previous Gardaí in the area have had.
“I know for a fact that the Gardaí here in the past have stopped young people from getting into crime. There was a trust built up in the past and that link is vital to the area. It keeps young people out of crime”.
People also spoke about the effectiveness of community alert schemes in the area, and a woman told the meeting that since the alert scheme was set up in her area, she has seen a lot less suspicious cars on her road.
A woman wanted to know what the opening hours of Abbeyleix are, as it is now the main station for the area. She was told that the station is currently 24 hours but this is being reviewed, although it has not been decided on yet. It was suggested to the crowd by the Chief Supt that on duty Gardaí may be put to better use on patrol in the area at night time, rather than in the station.
One man in the audience pointed out that there were a lot small areas around the village and asked if the new Garda would be familiar with the area. He was told by Garda Joe Culleton that the Garda Quinlan has been stationed in Abbeyleix and is familiar with the area.
“When the last local man arrived, he didn’t know the address of people either. It is a learning curve”. This was reitoriated by Chief Supt Scanlon who said that he wanted to have a point of contact in the area that people feel comfortable with.
Michael G Phelan who chaired the meeting said that Gardai who had previously worked in Ballacolla had always integrated well, with a number involved in local GAA and one still living there. He said that the last Garda there worked with the local community alert groups and his presence was felt throughout the village.
“Unfortunately that association between the Garda barracks and the people came to an end on February 1. I’d like to thank all the Gardai who worked here and made it a safe place. They had a huge presence. Unfortunately the services have been pulled right across the country and there is no turning back on them”.
Chief Supt told the large attendance that a Garda Declan Quinlan would be allocated to the area from Abbeyleix Garda Station and he would be dedicated to Ballacolla.
People also asked if the Garda Quinlan would be in the area much but were not told specific details on this. “We don’t know what will work yet, but what we don’t want to happen is having no point of contact. We want ye to come and tell us if something is wrong. This is what we have, the Gardaí isn’t about buildings, its about community”, said Chief Supt Scanlon.
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Weather for Portlaoise
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: South west