Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Community Safety and Investment: Motion [Private Members]


10:30 am

Photo of Mark WallMark Wall (Labour) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Browne. I thank my colleagues in the Labour Party, and particularly Senator Moynihan, for preparing the motion. Not for the first time I will mention Garda Sean O'Mahony. He is my local community Garda. I have mentioned him previously in the House. He is on the ground day in and day out. He has built up relationships with everybody including all of the public representatives.I mean all of the public representatives, but also all of the communities he represents. When I hear colleagues like Peter Horgan in Cork are running campaigns to get more gardaí, including community gardaí, into Cork, I know what they are losing out on.

Sean has built up the confidential relationship that comes with the trust that exists when a community garda is on the ground. That has been mentioned by other colleagues. Sean is involved in community events and is going all around the place. He is working with estates, which is an important part of a community garda's job. One of the issues that community gardaí look after are quality-of-life issues. We have all dealt with issues involving scramblers or noise issues that community gardaí deal with day in, day out. That is what community gardaí do well. When I hear colleagues around the country speak about not having gardaí, I know they are losing out. That is the call the Labour Party motion puts forward, namely that we need community gardaí as Peter Horgan in Cork has recognised.

I want to mention the Kildare model because I have been told that there is a full model there at the moment which seems to be working well. I deal with not just Sean, but also his colleagues in the Kildare and Newbridge stations. I want to highlight one worry. We have been told that Kildare South may be combined with Carlow. Unfortunately, Carlow has only one community garda. If we are going to stretch what we have at the moment, that will simply not work. We will lose the great work that community gardaí have done in the Kildare South area. I appeal to the Minister of State to bring to the Minister for Justice the request that the community garda model remains within the Kildare district.

Part of our motion relates to sports and playing facilities, as mentioned by my colleague, Senator Moynihan. I have raised this issue with the Minister for sport. Local authorities have a huge role to play in the provision of sporting facilities, playing fields, etc. Due to the cost of land, local authorities and Government need to get involved and provide that. Many towns and villages lack sporting facilities.

I want to mention the youth diversion programme and alternative projects in my home town of Athy. The Minister of State visited the area recently and saw at first hand the great projects and work that is being done. We need to ensure that no young person is turned away from those projects. They need continued investment and personnel. That is why we have tabled the motion. I thank the Government for supporting it and I welcome every investment made in respect of the motion before us.


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