Councillor urges town council to clampdown on public begging
By Maria Daly
Athlone town councillor Sheila Buckley Byrne asked the February meeting of Athlone Town Council if it would be possible to pass a bylaw to limit begging in the town.
Cllr Buckley Byrne made the motion after concerns that members of the public were being upset by beggars in the town who were becoming aggressive to passers-by.
“If it is possible to pass a bylaw that limits begging you would do everyone a huge favour,” she said.
The Independent councillor said that limitations on begging, which would prohibit begging in the town centre, would stop Athlone from being targeted by people who come into the town, purely to beg.
Her fellow councillors were quick to agree with Cllr Buckley Byrne with Cllr Mark Cooney pointing out that although begging is a problem in the town the council does not hold such powers to create a bylaw to prohibit the act.
He then suggested that the council write to the Department of Justice seeking advice on the matter.
Agreeing with her fellow Fine Gael councillor, Gabrielle McFadden said that those begging in the town were intimidating people, especially those who stay near the parking ticket machines in council car parks. “I believe people are being bussed in to beg, we should do something about this,” she said.
Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran agreed with Cllr McFadden’s observation that people were being brought into the town purely to beg. “They all arrive in one car and sit around town being aggressive to people. They’re frightening people away from the town,” he said.
Cllr Buckley Byrne concluded that it should be made as difficult as possible for people to beg in the town.
The council will now write to the Minister for Justice, requesting information on the kind of legislation that is allowed.