Laois’ new Chief Superintendent John Scanlon has declared Mountmellick “a fine peaceful town”.
He met with Mountmellick town council and community representatives at a Joint Policing Meeting last Thursday, with Supt Martin Harrington, Mountmellick’s Sgt Ingrid Moore and Gda Michael Wynne. He told them he had spent several days in the town.
“I was very exercised to see in the papers that towns were under siege, I came out to see for myself these people doing what they were alleged to be doing, I did not find them. This is no place like I was stationed in last, this is a fine town. There are probably one or two families engaged in begging, causing a nuisance and fear, but you can’t spirit them away, there is no magic wand,” he said.
The Chief Super was stationed in Limerick before moving to Laois last August.
“I had to sit in front of councillors in Limerick city and talk about 15 shootings, this is a fine peaceful town, I thought I was coming to a town under siege,” he said.
Chief Supt Scanlon reported that there were 1,000 calls to 999 in Laois last week, and 12 were related to nine incidents in Mountmellick.
“There are people from less fortunate backgrounds living here today, that people would prefer lived somewhere else perhaps, but I am very concerned about headlines on papers about towns under siege, when we get nine calls,” he said.
Cllr Denis O’Mara defended their comments made in last week’s TC meeting.
“What you read in the papers, each and every one of us got complaints about these boys harassing people. I’m not being dramatic, no-one wants bad press. We don’t have a proper garda presence in this town. The biggest question is visibility. If you walk down the street and ask people do they know the names of the local gardaí, except for Garda Wynne they wouldn’t know,” he said.
“You’re the public representatives, it behoves you to tell people,” replied the Chief Super.