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Councillors demand action on anti-social behaviour


Car burnt out in drive-way of ‘award-winning’ Westport estate

Anton McNulty

Mayo County Council has been asked to ‘take serious action’ to stamp out anti-social behaviour in a Westport estate after a car was burnt out and windows smashed last week.
The incident occurred at approximately 2.15am on Wednesday, September 23, when a car parked in the driveway of a house in the estate in Westport was set on fire and windows and glass door panels were broken.
The car was completely burnt out. No one was injured during the incident.
Westport-based councillor Christy Hyland raised the matter at last Thursday’s meeting of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee, where he called for serious action to be taken against the occupants of the house, who are council tenants. He commented that the Gardaí have a ‘path worn out’ to the house in question and local residents have had enough with anti-social behaviour.
“I am asking the local authority to take action before something serious happens because there seems to be an ongoing situation of anti-social behaviour at this particular house,” he said.
“I have got lots of complaints from decent honourable people who are frightened out of their minds. It is a very sinister development to happen in a law and order town. We have to stamp this out, and I am calling on the guards and the local authority and agencies to work together and work harder together to get the resources to sort this out. The system is letting down decent honourable behaviour.”
A Garda spokesperson said they believe two people were involved in the incident last week. The area was forensically examined while door-to-door enquiries were also carried out and CCTV footage has been examined.
Director of Services with Mayo County Council, Simon Shevlin said the council’s current anti-social behaviour policy has been in place for 18 months. During that time there has been  24 cases of official complaints in relation to anti-social behaviour out of a housing stock of 2,200. Of those cases 13 have been resolved and the other eleven are ongoing.

Firing lines
Foxford councillor Neil Cruise who raised persistent incidents of anti-social behaviour in his town said it was time to ‘end the nonsense’ and introduce a one strike and your out policy.
“Decent people are in the firing lines of this nonsense. These fellas are not getting up early in the morning, they sleep on til one o’clock, they will drink on all night and cause trouble when they like, and it is absolutely disgusting. [Introduce] One strike and your out and end the nonsense,” he told the meeting.
Cllr Cruise added that the people causing trouble for residents in Foxford had previously caused thousands of euro of damage to two private accommodations they previously rented before they were given local authority housing. He said Garda checks need to be ‘beefed up’ before tenants are allocated housing.
In response to questioning from members of the SPC, Mr Shevlin confirmed that if the tenants were evicted for anti-social behaviour, the council would still have to provide emergency accommodation, as they would be homeless.
He also rejected the idea that there is a massive problem with anti-social behaviour in council estates.
“The vast majority of people in these houses have their families and rear them and have a good life. People complain about social housing because they hear these scare stories but the vast majority of people in these houses are decent hardworking people. I don’t want it getting out that there is a massive issue when there is not.”
Cllr Hyland agreed the vast majority of residents are law abiding but added that the tax payer was being ‘screwed again by these thugs’.