Two public meetings will be held in the coming days in Donegal communities where residents are concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour.
A public meeting on community safety is scheduled for 8.30pm, Saturday, October 13th, in Kincasslagh Hall, following incidents of intimidation and anti-social behaviour in the area. In Newtowncunningham, Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fáil TD, and Fianna Fáil Cllr. Paul Canning are holding a public meeting at 8pm on Monday, Oct. 15th, in the Columban Hall, Newtowncunningham, on the increase in burglaries in border communities and the impact of cuts on garda resources.
West Donegal community activist Micheál Mac Giolla Easbuig said that for the last number of years there have been instances of theft, intimidation, bullying and violent attacks in some Rosses areas. He said local concerns came to a head in August, when someone set fire to a car parked outside the home of a mother and daughter at Belcruit, Kincasslagh. The blaze burned out the vehicle and damaged the home, but Mr. Mac Giolla Easbuig said the incident could have been much worse.
He said that if “a really good Samaritan” had not come along to help, “the meeting we’re having on Saturday night could be a very different meeting all together”.
The activist had already organised a meeting with a number of agencies, including gardaí, Health Service Executive and youth services; and a second meeting with community leaders from different local areas.
“The reason for the public meeting is to give ownership to the community and for the community to find solutions to this issue,” Mr. Mac Giolla Easbuig said. He said the agencies all have a vital part to play, “but the people to the forefront of this have to be the people of the community themselves.”
He said the meeting will also “show the people in the community that they’re not on their own”. All members of surrounding Rosses communities, such as Burtonport, Keadue, Mulladuff, Annagry, Dungloe, Belcruit and Drumnacart, are invited to attend, and businesses and community groups are asked to send representation. Representatives of the HSE and gardaí are also expected to attend.
Local Fianna Fáil Cllr. David Alcorn said he will attend the meeting, and urged members of the public to keep their eyes open. “If you see anything strange, at least be on the look-out for it,” said the councillor, a long-serving member of the Burtonport and Kincasslagh community alert group.
Fianna Fáil Cllr. Paul Canning said the Newtowncunningham meeting is intended to give the public an overview of crime prevention issues locally and on a cross-border basis.
Cllr. Canning said they will discuss ways of community self-policing, and “focus on how we, as a community, ensure that our homes and streets are as safe as possible”. He said they hope to give members of the public “a little awareness of what’s around them, and how to alert others.”
The councillor said people who live in communities along the border are concerned about the level of crime, “and coming into the dark evenings is a major concern to the older people”.
Deputy McConalogue said recent figures show an 18 percent increase in burglaries this year until June in Donegal and other border counties. He said south Inishowen communities closest to the border suffered particularly from burglary in recent months.
“This public meeting is aimed at highlighting the importance of protecting local garda resources and keeping our garda stations open,” Deputy McConalogue said.
Mr. Mac Giolla Easbuig emphasised the importance of community involvement in west Donegal.
“Agencies certainly have a vital part to play in this, but again I’d like to reiterate that the only people who can bring resolution and change to this have to be the people themselves,” he said. “The community cannot expect this to be sorted by others.”