The increase in anti-social behaviour within certain residential estates in Athlone is becoming a prevalent concern, Town Mayor, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, asserted to the Athlone Advertiser this week.
“Anti-social behaviour can occur anywhere but within certain residential estates in Athlone it has become a real, persistent problem and I firmly believe that the time has come for the authorities to take decisive action.
“In a number of quiet, settled estates in Athlone, drug dealing, intimidation, dumping and frequent visits by the Gardai and emergency services are now regular occurrences. Quiet areas that never had to worry about such issues in the past are now faced with a range of problems and considerations because of the actions of a few.
“I have to say that, in the main, the problems which I am continuously being alerted to are as a result of a complete lack of enforcement of the rules pertaining to Council tenancies. While the complaints are only about a few tenancies in number, the impact is widespread.
“As a local authority tenant, you must sign up to the rules contained in a ‘Tenant’s Handbook’. However, regular occurrences such as loud music, the presence of rubbish in front and back gardens, dogs barking all night, drug dealing, local intimidation, illegal activity, intimidation, unauthorised people living in Council houses and the burning of waste are just some of the daily complaints I receive from neighbours.
“We have an extensive number of families on our housing list, the majority of whom would integrate seamlessly into any local authority residential estate, yet poor decision making, along with a lack of enforcement of the rules of their tenancies have led to out-of-control situations which overspill into the local community creating a very negative situation for all.
“As a result, we now have situations where children don’t feel safe to be out on the road or green space to play,” Cllr O’Rourke remarked.
The Town Mayor stated that both the local authority and the Gardai must take a strong and immediate course of action when such anti-social behaviour occurs.
“The Gardai and the local authority are too tolerant in my view of anti-social behaviour. This is not my first time to say it and I will keep saying it until appropriate action is taken. I know of many cases where action by both authorities should have been taken, but nothing was done. For example, and not exclusive to Brawny Close, St Mary’s Place and Battery Heights, the same people have been breaking the law and have been in breach of their tenancy contracts for years and years.
“I am extremely annoyed about this, it is a complete slap in the face for the ordinary people who are law abiding and who care for their neighbours and residential areas.
“As a public representative it is my job to speak out on behalf of the people and I will do that as long as I am in this role. I am calling on the Gardai and the local authority to re-double their efforts to root-out these trouble makers and give the decent people back their estates,” Cllr O’Rourke concluded.