An Garda Siochana’s Mayo policing plan 2009 was discussed by some members of Mayo County Council this week who felt that the mixing of certain alcoholic drinks was driving people wild and needed to be studied in depth by the Government.
Councillors also expressed concerns about the number of public order offences which occur outside takeaways that are permitted to open past midnight and they discussed the issue of customer service within the force.
The Cultural, Education, Heritage and Corporate Affairs Strategic Policy Committee held preliminary discussions about the plan on Wednesday but will hear from a member of An Garda Siochana at their next meeting where some of their questions and concerns can be addressed.
The plan will then go forward to a full meeting of the council where all 31 elected representatives will have their say.
Westport town Councillor Peter Flynn felt that the mixing of Red Bull with vodka was the single biggest contributor to people’s behaviour. “It drives them daft,” he told the meeting, adding that people were left “buzzing” at 5am after consuming the cocktail. He said it was something that Ireland as a nation should consider banning.
Another bugbear of Cllr Flynn’s was the way the public are sometimes dealt with when they enter a garda station to make a complaint. He said first impressions last and the way a person is greeted in person or on the phone can have a lasting impression. But he said some people leave the stations feeling more like a criminal and he said it would do the gardaí good to look at their customer service practices.
It is the way youngsters consume Buckfast tonic wine that has raised concerns with Cllr Pat McHugh, who said that once granny used to sip this drink by the fire but now people are drinking it by the bottle from the bottle. “Their mind is cleared of reason and they have no recollection of their actions the following day,” he said.
Cllr McHugh added that the binge drinking culture was also unique to the British Isles and Ireland in comparison to the much more sophisticated approach taken on mainland Europe. He suggested education was the answer. However, Cllr Maloney disagreed, saying it was “the educated ones who know what to drink”.
It was decided to investigate which Government department would be best placed to carry out a study of the effects of mixing Red Bull with vodka and other cocktails.
It was also decided to look at the possibility of introducing bye-laws to curb takeaway opening hours. The draft plan highlighted that public order offences were up 15 per cent last year and members said many of these occur outside takeaways.
However, Cllr Flynn felt this might be another issue that the Government should be lobbied on.
While members agreed that Mayo County Council should suggest to the gardaí that they introduce a customer charter to improve their skills in dealing with the public, they also wanted it stressed that they fully support the gardaí in their work but there was room for improvement.
Wider consultation on the plan will take place in the coming months.