Home > Local response to community safety and intimidation.

McCarthaigh, Tony (2010) Local response to community safety and intimidation. In: Community drugs problem: defining the problem - defending the responses conference, 15 October 2010, Dublin.

Tony McCarthaigh, Rialto Community Drug Team, has been working in Rialto and in South Inner City for a long time as a drug worker and community development worker - dealing with the symptoms and causes of addiction and social exclusion - a world not simple and not black and white - but complicated and messy. This messiness is seen, amongst other things, in anti- social activities, intimidation and in communities feeling unsafe, insecure and abandoned. There needs to be a health warning to help to embrace and negotiate the mess.

Tony suggested a chapter entitled "New Deviancy" by Jock Young in New Introducing Sociology as a starting point, he argues that our view of life ought not be one of a - taken for granted -uniform understanding of what constitutes a perfect society and the common good but rather a life comprised of differences, diversity, plurality, the porridge of life - the mess. Through working through the mess, the chaos, differences and conflicts by means of relationship building, dialogue, and addressing issues of power, by respecting the autonomy of people and by challenging the comfortable boxing off of 'deviants' that we arrive at a more wholesome and creative space.

Tony explained the situation in three areas of the Canals Communities:

In Rialto in the mid-90's - the widespread drug use - intimidation of all sorts - community not feeling protected by the State - volatile public meetings - vigilantism of different types and then there was the tragic death of Josie Dwyer.
• Christmas 1996, a meeting was called of community activists and Gardai to address the vacuum and palpable community fear. This led to the set up the of Rialto Community Policing Forum (RCPF) - bringing together Dublin Corporation, Gardai and community people, some whose focus was on community development and others whose focus was on getting drug pushers and drug users 'out'. The community wanted the Gardai and Dublin Corporation to take responsibility for protecting the community.
• The forum fizzled out because of the community's frustration with inaction.
In Fatima Mansions:
• There was a great effort of regeneration with the community there playing a leading role including impressive efforts put into transforming the area physically and socially. In designing and bringing about the new reality, the Gardai and Dublin City Council were very active in addressing safety and security matters. The 'new' Fatima Mansions had come about - new homes, public and private, new community faculties and extra social resources.
• But in recent months, in spite of the tremendous physical and social inputs, there has been a frightening re-emergence of anti-social activities - huge gangs - big influx of outsiders - drug dealing and the sucking in of young people into these activities.
• The community urgently needs Gardai and Dublin Corporation to manage the problems so regeneration can continue and does not turn into a waste of time and resources. Not to do so is utter madness and may kill the dream and bring about another example of the squandering of huge public monies.

Dolphin House has become the biggest social flat complex in city.
• Last year gangs of drug dealers had taken over completely and people would not speak up out of fear.
• Around Easter as a result of increased Garda activity - individuals associated with gangs badly damaged in one night over 30 cars in the flats and warned people not to cooperate with the Gardai. This led to a public meeting, hosted by the Gardai and DCC, at which there was a large community attendance. There was the sense among the people that the State on this occasion was going to take their safety needs seriously.
• Gardai made the community safe by being present 24/7. In time, walls were erected and CCTV cameras were installed and things changed.
• People could breathe again and public spaces were reclaimed, children could play. People became engaged in community meetings and projects because the Gardai did what their job is: to make the community safe so people can carry on with ordinary life.

Rialto Youth Project's 'What's the Story?'
This initiative, made up of young adults, community artists and youth leaders was about getting young people to tell their stories of experiences around power issues. Many of their stories tell of their experience of encounters with Gardai. Ordinary kids - not gone over to the darker side - generally speak negatively of their encounter with Gardai that they describe as an abuse of power. They have seemingly become caught on the one hand between Gardai whom they see abusing their power and on the other hand their peers who are associated with gangland activity.

The 'What's the story' process led to facilitated meetings and dialogues between the young people and local Gardai. This dialogue and process is captured in an exhibition currently in The Lab, Foley Street. It is hoped that all of this will lead to further dialogue between these young people and the Gardai. Indeed the young people expect to have an input into a new training module of Gardai in community policing which is soon to take place.

Tony concluded his talk by saying that it is vital that communities receive protection from the state so that caring for vulnerable people can happen. We must ensure that dialogue can happen so the future can see a new culture of community policing. He quoted Padraig Pearse saying that this is what happened in Dolphin House when the community felt safe again:

'Young children with bare feet,
Upon the sands of some deep sea,
Or playing on the streets of little towns in Connaught,
Things young and happy, things bright and free.'

Rialto Community Drug Team, Tel: 01 4540021

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Event Title:Community drugs problem: defining the problem - defending the responses conference
Event Location:Dublin
Event Dates:15 October 2010
Accession Number:HRB (Electronic Only)
Related URLs:
Subjects:MM-MO Crime and law > Crime and violence > Crime against persons (assault / abuse / intimidation)
L Social psychology and related concepts > Life circumstances > Financial (money) problems
MA-ML Social science, culture and community > Community action > Community development
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
MM-MO Crime and law > Justice system > Community anti-crime or legal assistance programme
L Social psychology and related concepts > Marital relations > Family and kinship > Family and substance use > Substance related family problems
MA-ML Social science, culture and community > Community action > Community involvement
MM-MO Crime and law > Justice system > Community anti-crime or legal assistance programme > Community policing
L Social psychology and related concepts > Marital relations > Family and kinship > Family structure > Family support
MM-MO Crime and law > Organised crime
MM-MO Crime and law > Crime > Substance related crime > Crime associated with substance production and distribution

Repository Staff Only: item control page