People are becoming afraid to walk the streets of Longford town because it is “full of scumbags,” a local councillor told a joint policing committee meeting this week.
Cllr Gerry Warnock said that these were the comments of his constituents, many of whom raised concerns at latest crime figures.
He said two other concerns were that people no longer felt safe walking through the town due to an apparent rise in drug-related offences.
“I did a survey and the three answers I got back were that it (Longford town) is full of scumbags, it’s full of drugs and people don’t feel safe,” he said.
The independent councillor said as a father, he felt concerned at the sense of anxiety that now existed within the local community, claiming Longford was currently in the grip of a “huge, huge” drugs epidemic.
“I remember a time in Longford when people felt safe to go outside of their doors and to tip into town for a pint,” he complained, as he hit out at dwindling garda resources to combat the problem.
Cllr Warnock called on government decision makers to intervene by boosting the ranks of gardai in Longford.
“This, I feel is an issue of resources,” he candidly put it.
“I don’t think the bureaucrats who are making these decisions up in Dublin know the extent of the drugs and crime problem in Longford.
“We need regular walkabouts (of gardai) on our streets. We need action and we need it now because this town deserves better.”
Another member of the committee who backed up those fears was Cllr Mae Sexton.
The Labour representative said she had personally witnessed anti-social behaviour in the town when travelling through its Main Street around two weeks ago.
“I was quite horrified actually. I saw groups of fellas that I didn’t recognise with cans of beers in their hands and bags with further cans in them.
“They started watching me because I was looking at them and when I looked back in the mirror all I was getting was fingers.
“This is my home town. I will not be intimidated in my home town,” she said, as she expressed her desire to see more of a garda presence on Longford streets.
Cllr Brendan Gilmore was just as outspoken. “I was stationed in Roscommon for 12 years and I can safely say there was more crime in Longford in a night than there was in Roscommon in 12 months,” he said, asserting the view recent changes to garda divisional boundaries was a mistake.
Superintendent Denis Shields said he would take on board the views expressed by committee members, saying crime rates had shown a marked decrease over the past 12 months.
“I am not a politician. I won’t be saying anything that would be seen to criticise the people I am working for.
“I have a lot of very good young people (gardai) who are doing their best,” he said, revealing assaults were down 41 per cent with public order offences also dropping off when compared to last year’s figures.