THE JUDICIAL system and Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter came under fire at an angry meeting called in response to the crime upsurge in East Limerick.
Around 250 people packed in to Pallasgreen Community Centre to “Stop Local Crime” on Tuesday night. One man said it was a “blessing in disguise” that Minister Shatter’s house was robbed as he is “out of touch with reality and people living in rural Ireland”.
Later in the meeting, Cllr Noel Gleeson said it wasn’t “good enough” that the Minister wouldn’t meet a deputation from Doon on the closing of their garda station.
The meeting was called by Pallasgreen IFA in response to an aggravated burglary, robberies, numerous business and home break-ins, and thefts from farms in East Limerick. The speakers were Superintendent Alan Cunningham; Sergeant Helen Holden; Cathaoirleach Mary Harty; James O’Neill, Muintir na Tire; Eddie Scanlan, Limerick IFA chairman, and chairman of the reactivated Pallasgreen Community Alert, Micheal O’Riain.
The biggest applause of the night was for Paddy Ryan “Luke” who hit out at the “soft time” criminals get when gardai bring them to court.
“We read about it in the Leader every week. A fellow is brought to court with numerous previous convictions, he gets free legal aid and the judge gives him the probation act. The gardai bring the criminals to court and they get off. Let the punishment fit the crime. The deterrent isn’t sufficient,” said Mr Ryan.
Another asked where the man is who was charged in connection with the aggravated burglary in Pallasgreen. A teenage girl was allegedly tied up during the incident. He was refused bail in Limerick District Court but was granted bail in the High Court this week.
“He could be anywhere tonight,” said the man. John Dillon said gardai need the resources to do the job. Micheal O’Riain, Community Alert, said he had seen the demise of the southside of Limerick city during his 30 years teaching there.
“We’re going to allow our neighbourhoods go in that direction unless we do something about it,” said Mr O’Riain, who called for anybody associated with drugs not to be accepted within the parish boundaries.
“If we close our eyes we will go the same way as the city,” said Mr O’Riain, who invited everyone to join Community Alert.
Supt Cunningham said the gardai were there to serve the people and welcome any community initiatives that help the fight against crime
“We are waiting to get calls. You might see something suspicious and say ‘I’m not going to call the gardai, it might be nothing’. Call us. It could be the final piece of the jigsaw,” said Supt Cunningham. “My experience is that a high visible garda presence prevents crime. With the new roster you will see increased garda activity. There are more gardai working at peak times,” said Supt Cunningham.
The meeting, which lasted over two hours, ended with Mr Thompson saying there will be further meetings with a community text system being explored.
“Rural crime can’t go on the way it is,” he said.