DRUNKEN rows and distrubances in the street have become such a problem in Portlaoise that gardaí have to double the number of officers on patrol every Saturday night.
At the recent Joint Policing Committee meeting in County Hall, Superintendent John Moloney said that there is a serious problem with revellers on the street, especially during bank holiday weekends.
“We have four or five cases coming up before the court involving ten or more people,” Supt Moloney said. “Over the St Patrick’s weekend we had major problems.”
The superintendent said that on Saturday night gardaí “double up” and adopt a zero tolerance policy to public order. He told the town councillors that every garda now works a new roster of longer hours, providing 24-hour coverage across the county.
“Anyone who acts the maggot is going home with a charge sheet,” he warned.
Commenting on the CCTV system in Portlaoise town, Supt Moloney said that the cameras provide excellent footage for court cases, so excellent in fact that defence solicitors often don’t want to see the images because it clearly shows what people are getting up to.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said it was reassuring that the gardaí were doubling up at the weekend, especially considering the limited numbers of guards.
“No one wants to be a spoilsport, but we don’t want to give the town a bad name,” she said.
“Elderly people are afraid to walk down the town on a Saturday night,” added Cllr Willie Aird.