A Longford councillor has said that Gardai need to put in place a ‘ring of steel’ at adjoining County Longford estates. Such is the the level of anti-social behaviour and intimidation at the estates that over 20 houses have been left in a derelict state, as residents move out to escape being terrorised by the actions of a relatively small minority.
Speaking on anti-social behaviour in private estates at the Town Council’s recent Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting, council housing official Suzanne Duffy outlined the serious nature of what the current situation is at Cluain Ard and Palace Crescent, just off the Ballinalee Road in the town.
“In that estate we have up to 25 houses in a derelict state. It looks really bad up there. We’ve issued letters to property owners and we’ve met a group of owners to try and get them to establish a residents association up there, which they are willing to do. We’re having a lot íproblems with anti-social behaviour, and serious intimidation; people are being intimidated out of the area. Gardai have been aware of it and they are aware of it,” Ms Duffy said, adding that she didn’t know who was doing the intimidating.
There was a strong call for a joint effort from the Town Council, gardai and a local residents association to bring about a resolution. With CCTV being installed in the coming weeks, councillors said they are now looking for a higher garda presence up there.
Cllr Peggy Nolan said the Gardaí should have a week of zero tolerance in the estates to “try and clean up that area”.
“It’s the one area in this town that is a breeding ground for anti-social behaviour,” said Cllr Nolan.
She said that anyone living in the houses that lead up to this estate are terrorised by the people living in these estates and people are seeking transfers out of estates.
She said it’s like a volcano that’s waiting to erupt. “We’re almost at the point where it’s a no-go area,” Cllr Nolan claimed. “Most of them (residents) are fine, but the wrong element is up there and they’re causing mayhem, chaos and tyranny to a whole part of Longford town that needs to be sorted.”
Cllr Tony Flaherty said those found to be engaging in such activity should “be made an example of”.
“It’s probably one of the newest estates in this town, but it’s the most derelict,” he added and urged the council to consider taking it over, “because if we wait another 12 months, it will be completely run down”.
Cllr Warnock said the vetting of residents wasn’t strong enough. “So long as the rent is coming in, they’ll (private landlords) lease it to the devil,” he said.
Another councillor suggested that the council should consider employing security in the area. “When you consider the cost of this, if you had a security van in an area on a regular basis, backed up by the Gardaí doing likewise, I think you would find it would stop fairly quickly.”
Supt Denis Shields said he would take the councillors’ views on board, in particular Cllr Nolan’s, pointing out that gardaí are constantly looking at effective plans and strategies.