Green Party TD, Minister of State, Joe O’Brien, and Balbriggan Councillor, Karen Power, Call for Reinstatement of Community Policing Forum

24th September, 2020

Call follows recent incidents of serious anti-social behaviour in Balbriggan

Minister of State for Community Development and Charities and local TD Joe O’Brien has called for called for the reinstatement of the Community Policing Forum in Balbriggan.

“The recent outbreaks of violent anti-social behaviour in Balbriggan have left may in the community feeling worried and neglected. I think part of the solution needs to the reestablishment of Balbriggan Community Policing Forum, which was abolished in 2013. This was a regular public meeting whereby the community could meet with Senior Gardai and Council officials to discuss the policing situation in town. It was very useful in terms of building relationships between the Gardai and the community and allaying the sense of fear and neglect that people felt then in relation to anti-social behaviour in the town.”

“I think rumour and misinformation were rife in the days that followed the incidents and when this goes on social media it takes off and creates a misleading and negative image of the town, that helps nobody.  I have written to Garda Commissioner Harris to ask what can be done at a national level and to discuss how the Gardai can pre-empt planned violent brawls through targeted social media monitoring for example.”

“When issues like this arise I think we need to revisit and bolster the community spirit that was so tangible last year when the Our Balbriggan strategy was in full flow. I will also be looking at ways that I can use my new role as Minister for Community Development to assist so much of the positive work that is ongoing in Balbriggan. I think re-establishing the Community Policing Forum would be a step in the right direction.”

Cllr Karen Power echoed Minister O’Brien’s calls and added:

“There has been a sustained increase in the instances of serious anti-social behaviour in Balbriggan and this urgently needs to be addressed. The recent violent outbreaks have left people in the town gravely concerned for their personal safety and the safety of their family members, and such behaviour does not reflect the majority of decent, community focused people in the area.”

“I contacted the Gardai immediately following the first incident to request additional resources for the town and while I welcome the visible increase in Garda presence during the week and seeing people going about their business as normal, it is a worrying development that needs to be addressed in the long term. The Community Policing Forum will be an invaluable resource for the town and can help ensure that the Gardai and the Council are more responsive to community needs in estates that often get neglected. It will offer people guidance and assurance in relation to issues of concern and they ensure that the Gardai and Fingal County Council are made aware of and respond to the real everyday issues that are impacting upon people. In short, as an open and democratic forum it would be a great asset to the community.”

“While there has been a rise in serious anti-social behaviour people of Balbriggan are proud of where they live and want to develop their communities further, but they have been left feeling neglected and forgotten about. I am meeting with local Gardai representatives in the coming days to look at how to solve the problem in the long term and one of the many suggestions I will be making is that the Community Police Forum be revived to provide that much needed mechanism for the community to have a voice and speak up about the very real issues impacting the town on a regular basis.”