Thursday, 21 October 2004
Matter raised under Standing Order 30.
I thank the Cathaoirleach for agreeing to take this matter under Standing Order 30 and I thank the Leader for coming to the House to reply to it. A recent report from the west Tallaght area entitled, How are our kids?, was compiled by the Tallaght Childhood Development Initiative, a group of service providers for children in the west Tallaght area and the Darlington Social Research Institute.
This is an important report because it deals with the real life experience of children on the ground. This is a community with a population of 21,000. It is larger than Tuam or Ballinasloe, yet if some of the facts known of the children's experience in those towns were heralded as they have been in this report, there would be a national outcry. We are talking about real instances of poverty. In the matter I have brought to the attention of the House, a particular problem highlighted in the research is that 90% of the children have experienced fear or anti-social behaviour with 50% reporting that their families were personally affected by local crime. We have a significant job to do to put to one side the blight of urban poverty in some well-defined communities throughout this city, Cork, Limerick and Galway. We must do everything in our power to put more resources into these communities, particularly to improve policing.
We need more young police officers from the community and living therein. We need to ensure that the police change their attitude to the community and that the community changes its attitude to the police. The key to tackling problems of anti-social activity and disaffection is a better policing service.
I hope this report will stimulate a much wider debate at Government level on how children's lives are blighted and affected not just by poverty but also by anti-social activity and the onslaught of crime in some of our urban communities. I hope the report's excellent recommendations will help to inform Government over a myriad of Departments with a view to improving the service of care and delivering a quality police service to these communities, which have such a high preponderance of crime.