Saturday, June 17, 2006

 

Slane Forum leads the way

Our study continues into how anti-social behaviour is perceived. I was in Ashbourne to discuss the issue with residents. The local community is particularly keen to see an improvement at the GAA field beside St Declan’s School. I called to many residents in Crestwood Crescent and Castlepark and some of the stories I was told were very disturbing.

The problems seem to be particularly bad on the weekend evenings, when large groups of people gather to drink on public open spaces. Coming into summer the worry is that these instances increase.

Ashbourne drinking

After the canvas in Ashbourne I went home to my own estate. I also overlook a green open space. One of my neighbours put out an England flag, in celebration of their victory in Germany. After a while a gang started to congregate on the green. A few of them started to play “postman’s knock” at my neighbour’s door. When he opened it they taunted him with racist language from the green. This went on for about 20 minutes until finally my neighbour removed the flag from his window. Another victory for the sons of Ireland!

When I discussed the incident afterwards with a couple of my neighbours it transpired that a few of us had witnessed the event from our front rooms. Yet none of us dared to go out to confront the gang. We’ve all been warned not to.

Since the start of June I’ve had lots of similar stories of intimidation, verbal abuse and street drinking. The anti-social behaviour study we are undertaking is going to continue for another month. Then I hope to use the results to talk to various groups (the Gardai, local community organisations etc.) to try to come up with ideas for how can our society can tackle this issue on a national and local level.

Slane is a community with a clear vision for how to improve the quality of life for their village. I attended a meeting organised by Slane Forum which presented the initial findings of a report on the future of Slane. The presentation was given by architect Professor Philip Geoghan, who is being retained by the Forum.

The meeting was attended by around 100 local people, elected representatives and council officials. Considering that Brazil were in action on “the other channel” that was a huge turnout in my view.

Myself, Professor Geoghan and Cllr Dillon Gallagher at the Forum

I threw my support behind the group and reiterated my commitment that I will not support any developer’s proposal for rezoning unless Slane Forum are in favour of the proposal.

Deputy Emmet Stagg, from Kildare North came up to Dunboyne to join us on a canvas on Friday. We met in the Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa and had lunch on the terrace. It was a lovely afternoon and we talked to people in Plunkett Hall, Lutterell Hall and Congress Hall. People were in fine mood for talking.

In Congress Hall we were astounded with the quality of the Electoral Register. In one house there are 11 people registered (from three different families, 2 of which don’t live there). In another house there are seven people registered from three different families (only two people live there), in another house there is a lady registered who moved out ten years ago and the new occupants aren’t registered. In the house next door to that the people who moved out five years ago are still on the register. There are only 17 house in Congress Hall. Why is the register so appallingly bad for this estate?

Congress Hall, Dunboyne

I’m coming across instances such as this on a fairly regular basis. Coupled with this is the inability of the council to take the issue of electoral registration seriously. I purchased a copy of the electoral register a month ago for €80 and just last week discovered by chance that it does not contain any voters from the village of Slane. Now, I am sure they are on the paper register, but it was really annoying to me that the Council couldn’t manage to put the electoral register onto a disk without forgetting to include the village of Slane. And we are asking them to police the building of an incinerator?

I’m going to keep on to them about this…

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