O’Brien calls for Policing Forum to be restarted urgently

3rd September, 2015

Towards the end of 2013 I campaigned for the local Policing Forums in Swords and Balbriggan to be maintained and I organised local people in Balbriggan to write to the Minister for Health at the time James Reilly to continue to fund the forums. (This leaflet can be downloaded by clicking on the following link Leaflet re Policing Forum). The forums were a vital way to keep the Gardaí and the Council accountable to often neglected communities and estates. Unfortunately these calls fell on deaf ears and Minister Reilly decided to cut the funding and negatively impact these neglected communities.

Joe O'Brien at the Balbriggan Community Policing Forum

Joe O’Brien at the Balbriggan Community Policing Forum

I have received a number of representations in recent weeks from people in estates in North West Balbriggan who are gravely concerned for their personal safety and the safety of their family members and their property. There was of course a serious assault in the area recently that has frightened a lot of people. The communities there feel neglected and forgotten about but nevertheless they are now organising and trying to get their voice heard. Community leaders have asked me not to name particular estates as while they are concerned at the rise in serious anti-social behaviour they are proud of where they live and want to develop their communities further. They need to be helped to do so.

There is a glaring lack of belief and confidence among a lot of people in Balbriggan and indeed in other towns in north Dublin like Rush and Swords that the Gardaí are losing touch with the realities on the ground because they are stretched so thinly. The big need is more Gardaí and I have written to the Minister for Justice to ask her to ensure that north county Dublin is prioritised for the next set of new recruits. As communities though we don’t need to wait for central government to act we can act locally aswell. I have also written to the County Manager and Superintendent Noel Carolan to ask them to put their heads and resources together so that local policing forums are re-established in Swords and Balbriggan.

Such forums can help ensure that the Gardai and the Council are more responsive to community needs in estates that often get neglected.