One police force warns Garda chief

A note of caution has been sounded by Gardaí over the emergence of a new group guarding Portlaoise's elderly as they collect pensions.

Garda Chief Superintendent John Scanlan has commented on the formation of 'Guardians of the Elderly and Vulnerable”.

“We only have one police force in this country, which has to observe the law. Everybody should work within the law,” Garda Chief Supt Scanlan told the Leinster Express.

“We want people to have free access to the Post Office,” he added.

The group formed a fortnight ago, following the theft of a purse from an elderly woman, who had been followed to Mulhalls after she collected her pension.

They are standing in groups wearing high vis vests on paths outside the post office, banks and shops in Lyster Square, and vow to continue to do so.

Chief Supt Scanlan said Gardaí are on Lyster Square on pension collection days.

“We have given a longstanding commitment, particularly on Tuesdays and Fridays when the elderly are going in and out, to mind people there,” he said.

Fitness shop owner Darren Fogarty formed the group.

“We’re not vigilantes. We’re just here to act as a deterrent for these people, so that the elderly people can come in peace,” he said, adding that they would not intervene in any crime witnessed, but would report it to the Gardaí.

An Post say they are “aware of the situation, and obviously concerned for any matter concerning our customers“.

“Gardaí are monitoring the situation. The matter is one for the Gardaí,” a spokesperson said. See page 6