Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Community Safety and Investment: Motion [Private Members]


10:30 am

Photo of Sharon KeoganSharon Keogan (Independent) | Oireachtas source

The Minister of State is very welcome. I am pleased to support the motion put down by the Labour Party and the amendment tabled by my colleague, Senator Craughwell. Community safety and investment is of paramount importance to ensure a thriving, safe and healthy society. The Trojan work done by An Garda Síochána has never been of more vital importance than in recent years. Community unrest is palpable in our country. The recruitment and retention of gardaí is at crisis point, which is why we call for the restoration of pensions to pre-2008 conditions, as well as the implementation of report recommendations to ensure that the welfare of members of An Garda Síochána are supported.

Youth programmes are vital to support at-risk youth and provide opportunities for our young people, especially those in underprivileged communities, so that they can thrive and realise their potential in life. Crimes committed by those aged under 18 have increased by 5% between quarter 1 of 2022 and quarter 1 of 2023. Youth Work Ireland stated in recent reports that since March 2020, youth clubs throughout the country have reported significant concern in regard to young people who attend their clubs and that Covid-19 has seriously impacted on their ability to provide services to young people.This impact is still felt today.

I commend the successful, vital and socially important work youth programmes provide. The Government does not support them enough and could do more. There is currently a community policing unit in the town of Duleek, where I live. It is excellent. Duleek also has a community youth intervention programme that works with some troubled youths. It is there five days a week. It is important that we have programmes at evening times for our youth. That is something the Garda can be involved in. It was involved in a programme in Duleek with the soccer club. It was a summer league that took place on Saturday nights. Every Saturday night young people were taken off the streets at 8 p.m. We brought them to play soccer with gardaí and other youths. They spent two hours there on a Saturday evening and were not on the streets creating trouble. It was great to see it. There was great collaboration, but it also gave an opportunity for the gardaí to get to know the young people in the town and become associated with them.

Given the social and economic constraints of the current environment, it is crucial to look out for those who are at risk in our communities, and the Garda, which plays a vital role in social cohesion at this time. I would welcome more money for community policing and youth diversion programmes.


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