Laois town held up by CCTV row pleads for breakthrough

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Mountmellick Neighbourhood Watch group with Minister Charlie Flanagan and local Gardaí. Photo: Denis Byrne

Mountmellick Neighbourhood Watch group with Minister Charlie Flanagan and local Gardaí. Photo: Denis Byrne

A Laois town that has raised thousands to erect CCTV cameras, has urged the authorities to find a solution to the dispute stopping community schemes from going ahead.

Mountmellick Neighbourhood Watch has raised just under €14,000 in donations from the public concerned about their safety.

Barbara Lalor is the Secretary, and co-ordinator of the scheme. 

"We are meeting people who have given us money and they are rightly asking where are the cameras. We have all our boxes ticked, we have permission, sites allocated, a quote for cameras," she said.

She wants Laois County Council, Minister Charlie Flanagan and Laois Offaly Chief Superintendent John Scanlon to sit down and decide for the sake of communities what is to be done.

"Take the politics out of this and stop passing the book. Otherwise we won't get our cameras. they are getting the big bucks, we are only volunteers," she said.

The exact figure raised so far is €13,976.07, she said, and not a higher figure of €28k incorrectly given at the September council meeting by Cllr James Kelly. The fund is securely stored in an account in Mountmellick credit union.

"We want to thank the community for their support to date. People are still donating, especially the elderly, they tell us they want to feel safe in their community," Ms Lalor said.

"CCTV is the only way forward. It was proven when a tractor stolen in Mountmellick was traced all the way to Clare. We have up to 10,000 vehicles passing through our town daily, cameras would be a huge asset as all roads seem to lead through our town," she said.

The government has a grant scheme to communities towards CCTV setup costs. However Laois County Council, along with most other local authorities, is refusing to take on the job of Data Controller, over concern for ongoing costs, staff, security and legal responsibilities. They are awaiting clarification from the Department of Justice. Meanwhile groups are in limbo as the council's agreement to do the job, is a condition of getting a grant for the schemes.

Laois communities 'sitting ducks' for criminals over row about CCTV