Dublin locals call for ‘boot camp’ for youths tried to ‘rob poor box from church’
“Boot camp, send them to boot camp. Bring out Goggins, bring out the army sergeants,” she said. “They go from school to the dole…and they smoke hash on the buses too.”
Walking down the road towards the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Ballyfermot, there is little evidence of the chaotic scenes just hours earlier, when gardaí were attacked after a funeral.
Videos shared on social media showed a group of youths attacking two officers, which led to one receiving medical treatment.
The incident happened as gardaí intervened with a group riding scrambler bikes and horses outside the church on Monday afternoon.
What remains of the scenes of mayhem is a patch of trampled grass on the roundabout. People were going about their daily business, but underlying all that is a strong sense of frustration and anger.
Residents are simply “fed up”, with many calling for a tougher approach to dealing with the problem. Along a nearby row of shops, business owners and residents expressed their frustration.
Lisa (59) and her friend Christine (60), were picking up some groceries.
“We want everyone to know it’s not people from the area causing trouble. We never had any trouble. This is a very settled, old neighbourhood,” Lisa said.
“It’s a terrible thing to happen after a funeral. We heard the guards were helping an elderly person, then someone threw something.”
Business owners Sinéad (35) and Anne (36), who live and work in the area, witnessed some of the chaotic scenes yesterday.
“They were pulling wheelies and terrorising people, old people,” Sinéad said.
“It’s disgraceful, up and down the footpaths. They have horses and carts. It is absolutely terrible for businesses.
“The guards are being tormented. We need more guards,” she added.
Anne believes a tougher approach is needed, making reference to former army training instructor Ray Goggins from the RTÉ show, Ultimate Hell Week.
“Boot camp, send them to boot camp. Bring out Goggins, bring out the army sergeants,” she said. “They go from school to the dole…and they smoke hash on the buses too.
“We have written to the minister to ask for his help. We have a CCTV camera in the area, but I don’t know if it’s broken?”
Another local resident, Joanne Doyle (39), believes gardaí “should be given guns, simple as that”.
“In England they have guns, so why not? I see it. The guards in the car, probably terrified, outnumbered,” she said.
“The guards were helping an old woman with a child, a 10-month-old. Guns might scare them. Batons are nothing. There’s only four guards for the area, I believe. It’s just not enough.
“They tried to rob the poor box from the church last week, the priest had to chase young boys up the road,” she added.
Leaving Mass at the church near the roundabout, Jimmy (60) had one regret about the latest incident.
“I don’t want to comment other than to say the daffodils on the roundabout have been absolutely obliterated,” he said.
Petty crime is also a constant for local businesses. One shopkeeper, who did not wish to be named, described the situation his staff regularly face.
“The boys come and take whatever they want, they walk off. When we stop them, we get abused and threatened,” he said.
“They say, ‘we will get you outside’, so we’re afraid to go to work. It’s a cycle, an ongoing situation. Security don’t even want to show up. Our staff have been egged and beaten.
“Most of the locals are so nice. The older people know us and try to encourage us and tell us ‘don’t worry about them’.
“The scramblers is a long term problem. They break in, they rob us. Guards don’t show up for two hours, it’s too late.
“I’ve met with councillors and sent footage to the gardaí. Nothing happens. I have lost track of all the USB keys I’ve sent in.
“The boys are not afraid. The scramblers need to be seized. Everyone needs to work with the guards to fix this situation,” he added.
Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan said residents are being “held to ransom” by a small cohort.
“The gardaí were under attack and the community were undermined, it’s a cocktail for disaster,” he told Independent.ie.
Mr Doolan said the lack of intervention from the Department of Justice has created a “vacuum” for violence and the level of crime in the area is increasing.
He said although the group inciting the violence is small, they are creating “fear” in the community.
“It raises questions as to why the Minister for Justice has walked away again? All the eyes will be looking at Ballyfermot again and the local people feel let down,” he said.
“The gardaí have been hugely undermined.”
People Before Profit councillor Hazel de Nortúin said An Garda Síochána need to “commit” to keeping gardaí in Ballyfermot and engage with the younger population.
“It’s not the first time a clash with the gardaí has happened,” she said. “We are getting community guards and they are being moved on or are completely under-resourced.
“If they had the opportunity to build up a relationship with people then that could be effective.”
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