More staff needed, not fewer, to deal with potential Hallowe’en trouble, says McNelis

Hallowe’en is no longer a spiritual and cultural celebration but an “excuse for lawlessness and anti social behaviour”, according to Labour city councillor Niall McNelis.

Cllr McNelis said he fears this years Hallowe’en “could be more violent and disruptive than any we have seen” because Galway City Council services “vital to limiting the problems” caused by the holiday season have been reduced.

According to Cllr McNelis, at Monday’s city council meeting, city manager Joe MacGrath told councillors that he could not promise staff for Hallowe’en, owing to cutbacks in staff caused by the economic downturn and the council’s budget deficit. Among the staff who have been cut back are those who remove the pallets, tires, and other debris collected for bonfires.

He also said Hallowe’en is a “difficult period for the emergency services” with an “alarming increase” in the amount of violence facing firemen and ambulance drivers. He also called for “a real stand”: to be taken against the import and distribution of illegal fireworks

“Fireworks aren’t just a nuisance they are extremely dangerous,” he said. “Every year there are numerous horror stories in the news of children being badly injured by illegal fireworks.”

Cllr McNelis wants to see a co-ordinated approach to policing in the community over the next few weeks to prevent any trouble which may occur over the Hallowe’en weekend.

“There needs to be more gardaí on the streets,” he said. “There needs to be more workers removing the collections of wood destined for illegal and dangerous bonfires. Now isn’t a time for a reduction in services.”

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