Councillors query enforcement of on-street alcohol ban

A Letterkenny Town Councillor has called on gardaí to enforce the town’s on-street drinking ban.

A Letterkenny Town Councillor has called on gardaí to enforce the town’s on-street drinking ban.

Tadhg Culbert (FF), said there was little evidence the on-street drinking ban in Letterkenny was being enforced by the gardaí and he has called for an urgent meeting with senior gardaí to discuss the growing problem. He said the on-street drinking is linked to increasing violence in the town.

Speaking at the May meeting of Letterkenny Town Council, he said: “We all know the abuse of alcohol leads to a lot of the violence we see around the town. We all see it on a Saturday night. People are standing drinking on the street and get away with it,” he said.

“There is little point in having a ban if we are not going to enforce it. I’ve never heard of anybody being hit with an on-the-spot fine. Maybe there has been one or two prosecutions, but I hadn’t heard of many. We should raise this with the garda authorities. There are families who are afraid to walk past people who are drinking on the street,” he added.

Supporting the motion, Cllr Victor Fisher said a young man was stabbed three times on the Main Street recently and many issues like that had their roots in the abuse of alcohol.

“That young man’s father is afraid to come out of his house now,” he said.

Cllr Jimmy Kavanagh (FG) said stag parties at weekends were also a big problem.

“It is intimidating for people to walk past people who are standing drinking on the street. We need to implement the ban,” he said.

Cllr Tom Crossan (Ind) said garda resources were stretched but the ban needed to be rigorously enforced.

“A 13-year-old girl collapsed on the street in the town last weekend due to alcohol abuse. I raised concerns about a certain house that was providing drink and nothing was done about it,” he said.

Cllr Ciaran Brogan (FF) said the sale of drink in supermarkets was a serious problem and needed to be tackled.

“The below cost selling is a problem. There is an issue of parental responsibility here too,” he said.

“I think we need to have a meeting with the gardaí to discuss this matter,” he added.

Cllr Jim Lynch (Ind) said the drink culture in Ireland was a problem.

“Visitors to this country can’t believe it. A drink in Ireland isn’t one it is several - it is part of our make-up. I have seen teenagers buying a bottle of alcohol before they go out,” he said.

“We know pubs that carry on to 1.30am and then you can walk into a disco and carry on to 3am and then we’re wondering why there is violence on the streets. The legislators are failing in their duty in the area of drink. I know people who are terrified of what they see on the streets of Letterkenny,” he added.

Cllr Pascal Blake said statistics showed the abuse of alcohol related to more serious problem and it was time the ban was rigorously enforced.

Mayor Gerry McMonagle said the gardaí were failing in their duty to stop people drinking on the street.

“The gardai were given the books for on-the-spot fine two years ago. I don’t know how many, if any, people have been hit with a fine. We have CCTV which can help in this area,” he said.

“There is some problems- but sometimes we go over the top,” he added.

The council agreed to approach the gardaí and find out how many people had been issued with on the spot fines.