WITH the Easter holidays in full swing the local community is on alert following a series of incidents in which young girls have been accosted or attacked by strangers.
The most recent incident occurred on Monday, March 23, and involved a girl, believed to be 13 years old, who had a plastic bag pulled over her head in broad daylight as she jogged through the Manorfields’area.
The girl was training for her school athletics team when she was approached from behind by a man who pulled a bag over her head. She managed to struggle free and escape unharmed back to Colaiste Pobail Setanta, where she alerted staff to what had happened. Gardai were called but the assailant had already left the scene when they arrived.
The school immediately sent a message out to parents advising caution: “Please do not allow students to walk alone in the area. There was a potential incident in the area after school today.”
An alert had previously been sent out by Scoil Mhuire Senior National School in Blakestown following an incident on Thursday, March 12, when a man in a red car allegedly approached a girl at Mount Symon Green.
The notice read: “Following an incident in the Clonsilla area last night where a male stranger in a red car approached a pupil of our school, we are asking parents to be vigilant with regard to child safety at all times. Gardai in Blanchardstown are dealing with the incident and taking the necessary precautions.”
Just six days later on Wednesday, March 18, two schoolgirls from Hartstown Community School were approached on the Hartstown Road at about 8.30pm by two men in a black car.
Gardai in Blanchardstown are investigating all three incidents but have not established any links between them. They are appealing to anyone with information to contact them at Blanchardstown Garda Station on 01 6667000 or the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666111
Other schools in the constituency, including St Patrick’s National School in Diswellstown have also advised parents and students to be extra cautious.
Gardai have issued a series of crime prevention tips in the wake of the incidents. They say environment is a huge factor and that some areas are more prone to crime than others. Quiet and poorly lit streets, underpasses and laneways may be ideal places for criminals to strike. They advise choosing well-lit locations and avoiding waiting alone at bus stops and on train platforms.
Cllr Natalie Treacy (SF) said that as a mother with two young daughters she was particularly concerned about this spate of incidents.
She said: “It’s very scary. My own daughter goes to Hartstown Community School, so I received a text [from the school].”
She said a joint policing committee meeting in Mulhuddart community centre last week was well attended. Concerns were raised about response times and difficulties getting through to Blanchardstown Garda Station.
Cllr Treacy said Garda cutbacks meant fewer vehicles were available to them to cover the district thus making the job more difficult. Gardai apologised for any inconvenience caused and said phones at Blanchardstown station were always attended, and that the 17 new vehicles allocated to the station had begun to arrive.