RESIDENTS living in fear of “out of control” gangs in Balbriggan staged a protest at the town’s garda station last night (Wednesday).
The community is calling for a tougher approach when it comes to policing youths who are holding citizens to ransom and terrorising neighbourhoods.
Organiser Shane Byrne told the Dublin Gazette: “The town is going down the drain and the gardai are doing nothing.
“We have huge gangs of kids running wild and it’s getting worse and worse.
“They have no fear. It started with kicking doors, then burning wheelie bins, then kicking down the doors and attacking people.”
Shane said “marauding” mobs of volatile teens are to blame for an increase in violent incidents in the seaside town and gardai – who now face an overtime ban – are not equipped to deal with it.
He added: “I have a barber’s shop in the town centre and there’s young lads who are afraid to walk from here to their parents’ car in case they are attacked.
“Women who live alone are afraid to leave their homes. They are petrified. If something is not done to tackle it now the town is doomed.
“People have had enough. This is just the first in a series of protests and we won’t stop until something is done about it.”
Yesterday, Cllr Darragh Butler (FF) warned that the garda overtime ban was “shocking and potentially disastrous news for north Dublin”.
A Fingal Joint Policing Committee meeting earlier this year heard that concerns over lawlessness in Balbriggan, which has the largest youth population in the country, were on the rise.
Gardai conceded that because the age profile of the town is “quite young” it brings with it certain challenges.
It also emerged that gardai are allocated “where most needed” and the priority is to maintain “baseline policing”.
It was also acknowledged that issues around Balbriggan’s “ethnic diversity” and the integration of its migrant community were factors.
Shane said: “We are the forgotten town here. It’s a great place, but there’s just a serious amount of youths walking the streets looking for trouble and it’s out of control.”