Two local Councillors have expressed their deep concern with regard to the escalation of anti-social behaviour on the main streets of Athlone.
Local authority representatives, Cllr. Frankie Keena and Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke, noted their despair stating that such activities are now becoming a regular unsightly occurrence.
Addressing the issue, Town Mayor, Cllr. Keena, remarked that the criminal actions of certain personnel was detrimental to some local authority and private housing estates.
“This criminality is destroying some of our communities and estates and I will not relent until effective action is undertaken to resolve the matter. This is an ongoing problem where certain people are not being penalised for littering, stockpiling rubbish in their gardens, carrying out graffiti, brawling, making noise at unsociable hours and drug dealing,” Cllr. Keena emphasised.
The Town Mayor stated that the local authority must be more forceful with Council tenants who engage in anti-social behaviour and the relevant terms and conditions imposed in such situations.
“I regularly received calls from residents living in local authority estates expressing annoyance with tenants who choose to stockpile black bags of rubbish in their gardens, dump litter in the back lanes, play loud music at night time and who are engaged in aggressive behaviour. I this regard we must enforce the tenants’ handbook as it is simply not fair on those residents who want to live their lives in peace,” Cllr. Keena continued.
Cllr. Keena encouraged co-operation with local Gardai in respect of drug dealing within the local authority estates.
“We need to work closely with the Gardai to deliver successful action in this regard. This activity is unfair on other residents who are fearful for the welfare of their children.
“There are so many good families on our housing list who would cherish the opportunity to get a Council house and then we have those who don’t appreciate and respect their neighbourhood,” Cllr. Keena reiterated.
Fianna Fáil colleague, Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke echoed similar sentiments, noting that he had been approached by members of the public who were gravely distressed pertaining to the prevalence of anti-social behaviour in the town.
“There is an ever increasing number of people who are hanging around our town every day, clearly intoxicated and under the influence of drugs.
“While no public representative likes to highlight negative stories about their own town or county, I have come to the point of utter despair. I am now publicly calling on our local authority and the Gardai to act on what could become a very damaging trend for this town, if it is allowed to continue,” Cllr. O’Rourke stressed.
In his capacity as Councillor, the local businessman stated that he would bot be fulfilling his local authority role if he did not put forward proposals to deal with such public criminal actions.
“I intend to make proposals to this effect at our October council meeting in order to strengthen the hand of the Garda Siochana in this regard,” Cllr. O’Rourke highlighted.
Cllr. O’Rourke has further urged local Gardai to become more visible on the town’s streets.
“The Community Policing model that worked so well in the past has been abandoned by the senior echelons in Garda HQ and proposed new structures will erode the town’s status as our Superintendent will no longer be based here, instead he will be based in Meath,” Cllr. O’Rourke claimed.
Cllr. O’Rourke said that an elderly woman told him that she was approached and asked for money in a very aggressive way by an intoxicated young man in the Civic Square in the middle of the day last week.
Noting particular aggressive centre of town incidents which had been relayed to him, Cllr. O’Rourke stated that there was talk of a march to the Garda Barracks which would then culminate at the Civic Centre.
“This is to demonstrate to the authorities that people are no longer going to tolerate the soft approach taken towards these individuals. Should such a march happen, I will be most definite with my presence,” Cllr. O’Rourke concluded.