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Home > Seanad Éireann debate. Commencement Matters - Crime prevention

[Oireachtas] Seanad Éireann debate. Commencement Matters - Crime prevention. (30 May 2019)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/seanad...


Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: I appreciate the Minister being here in person to discuss this. I have raised issues of crime, criminality and anti-social behaviour in Dublin’s northside for at least a year. The responses from the Minister and his office have been disappointing. There has been a shooting, a pipe bomb incident, and a shooting incident outside Donaghmede Shopping Centre. There is currently great media interest and focus on the area because of three murders in the past week. What will the Government’s response to this be? To be fair to the Government, when a similar situation arose in the north inner city, there was a very high-level response from the Government. There were high-level meetings with stakeholders in St. Lawrence O’Toole school then, and a very hands-on approach, including the commission of the Mulvey report, which is still being implemented. The discussions were not merely on a policing response but also took place with various agencies involved in youth empowerment and there were anti-poverty measures.

 

What is the Government’s response to this situation? Will the Minister and the Government engage a Mulvey-style report for Dublin 17 and the wider area? Is the Minister aware that a neighbouring community is due to expand its population to 50,000 and that community is campaigning for a Garda station as part of its infrastructure? Will the Minister sit down with Sphere 17 youth services and the Preparing for Life group in Darndale which are making fantastic inroads into parental empowerment in that area, with great success? There are other agencies such as RASP drugs services, Doras Buí, and Northside Partnership, all of which have things to say. I spoke to two school principals in recent days. They are worried about the long-term impact this will have on children in the immediate area if this becomes normalised. They walk past Garda tape and dead bodies, or they hear gunshots. This is not normal and it cannot be seen to be normal. We have a responsibility to the future of these children that they feel that the hand of the State is lifting them up, so that when something like this happens, the State will intervene and shoulder their cares and there is political and governmental leadership.

 

Will the Government please recognise that there is a problem in this area of the city which is spiralling out of control, and that it is the responsibility of the Taoiseach and the Government to show the leadership and be in these communities, talking to the people who care passionately about those communities, because we are losing the battle? Why is it that young men are only too willing to take the place of those who have just been murdered? We must change our drug policy and the policing policy on that side of the city. We need the resources but we must also talk about youth empowerment. I ask the Minister, the Taoiseach, and all others who have influence in this area to commission a Mulvey-style report for Dublin 17 and wider communities so that investment can start flowing, policing can be enhanced, and we do not see a return to the type of bloodshed we have seen over the past week.

 

Deputy Charles Flanagan: I thank Senator Ó Ríordáin for raising this very important issue. I am pleased to have the opportunity to address the matter from a criminal justice perspective.

 

I repeat my total condemnation of the appalling violence that has been perpetrated in recent days. I have spoken to the Commissioner and I am satisfied that vigorous Garda investigations are under way. Furthermore, local patrols are being supplemented by armed support units and there is ongoing liaison and support being provided by relevant sections within other specialist divisions of An Garda Síochána. Gardaí have put specific operations in place to deal with the serious incidents that have occurred in Dublin recently, and they continue to work directly with communities to keep our citizens safe. In relation to the killing that occurred on Tuesday afternoon, an incident room has been established in Santry Garda station, and I appeal to anyone who may have any information, no matter how seemingly incidental, to come forward to An Garda Síochána. This morning, the deputy Garda commissioner for policing and security will convene a high-level meeting to discuss further policing plans to address the shootings in this area. I have requested that I be kept apprised of all developments in this matter and I will visit the area in the coming days.

 

On the Senator’s proposals, I emphasise that An Garda Síochána's approach and response to the presence of a relatively small number of violent criminals in some communities include a strong focus on quality of life issues and collaboration with local authorities, joint policing committees, JPCs, and local drug task forces. However, as we all acknowledge, a more sustainable, co-ordinated and comprehensive approach is needed. That was a clear message delivered to the expert members of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and it is clear from its report that the message was understood and responded to in the recommendations. In particular, the commission examined the incidents in the north-east inner city and subsequent citizen engagement in recent years, and it looked at how that approach could be mainstreamed and embedded.

 

We all recognise that the reasons an individual turns toward a life of crime are complex, with a substantial, unacceptable negative impact on communities. It is an appalling vista for any community to witness violence or criminality in their midst because of the actions of a small number of people. However small, we need to do everything possible to ensure that to the greatest extent possible we divert people away from a possible life of crime. Putting in place suitable interventions to prevent this requires a joined-up approach by a number of stakeholders, including An Garda Síochána, various Departments, agencies, NGOs, families and, of course, members of the wider public. The Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland recognised that reality. A very significant proportion of police time, in Ireland and in other jurisdictions, is spent on harm prevention and providing, service to citizens at risk, including those with addiction issues, and I know that the Senator has been a strong advocate for such persons in recent years.

 

The new model of policing put forward by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland envisages a new district approach to policing with significant community engagement, including the creation of multi-agency crisis intervention teams in all Garda divisions. These teams, and the broader concept of community safety, will be embedded in legislation in the new policing and community safety Bill which is being progressed by my Department as a matter of urgent priority. I look forward to the Senator’s, and all Senators', input into that legislation in due course. I will be very happy to engage with them and receive their observations, comments or submissions. The critical aspect of the Commission on the Future of Policing is that it has designed a model for policing excellence for the future. This is an approach that will make a real difference to communities. That is the sustainable solution for the future for all communities.

 

I again assure the Senator of the active Garda investigations under way and that An Garda Síochána is taking all necessary steps to bring the perpetrators of the recent shootings in Dublin to justice. The Government will continue to support the Garda through the allocation of unprecedented resources in terms of personnel, technology and everything else, so that its members can continue to carry out their duties and protect the public......

 

[See also, related debates found at the links below]

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Irish-related
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Crime prevention, Policy
Date
30 May 2019
EndNote
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