Alcohol linked to half of town’s underage crime – Garda juvenile liaison officer calls for reflection on drink culture

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FIFTY per cent of crimes committed by offenders between the ages of 12 and 18 in Castlebar last year were alcohol related, it has been revealed.

Garda Mick Fahy, garda juvenile liaison officer, said abuse of drink was the underlying factor in half of the 108 cases he dealt with during 2012.

From The Connaught Telegraph

Speaking at yesterday’s (Monday) meeting of the local joint policing committee, Garda Fahy called on society as a whole to reflect on the serious impact of drinking on people and their families.

He stated: “We all have to reflect on our lives and that there is a major problem in Ireland with alcohol. It’s part of our lives from the cradle to the grave and it all starts at home.

“We have to look at the example we are setting our children. Many parents don’t realise the extent of their drinking and the impact it has on their children.

“And the culture has changed as far as young people are concerned because what they are consuming are spirits mixed with soft drinks.”

Garda Fahy said the greatest number of incidents involving teenagers and alcohol occurred at Halloween and during the summer months.

In his report to the meeting, he explained that of the 36 juvenile prosecutions in Castlebar last year, just five individuals were responsible for those cases.

While 25 thefts/frauds were recorded as well as 14 assaults by juveniles, he insisted Castlebar is a relatively safe town in which to life.

“Over 25,000 people reside within a five-mile radius of the town and a small group of offenders are responsible for most of the bad things that happen,” he added.

Councillor Eugene McCormack praised Garda Fahy’s common-sense approach in dealing with vulnerable young people and their families.

“I welcome his proclamation that Castlebar is a safe town in which to live. The figures show it is as good as any town of its size in the country.”

Councillor Thérése Ruane agreed that alcohol was the curse of society and needed to be addressed.

“It is the demon and we are all in denial,” she added.

Councillor Ger Deere said the issue of drink abuse had to be addressed. But it is very difficult to do so when teenagers can but two cans of beers cheaper than a bottle of Ballygowen in certain premises.

Councillor Michael Kilcoyne stated the time had come to ban drink manufacturers from sponsoring sports event because of the perception it is creating for young people.

The independent representative has also called on the town council to consider introducing a bye-law to ban the wearing of hoodies in the town.

He explained the garda CCTV system is rendered useless as offenders wearing hoodies could not be identified.

Councillor Kilcoyne said the cameras picked up two criminals stealing a bread van at a petrol station in Castlebar, but they could not be identified due to hoodies covering their heads.

Meanwhile, a garage owner responding to a burglar alert at his premises in Charlestown last week had his windscreen broken before the gang fled.

Des Cassidy of Cassidy Motors, Bellaghy, went to the scene around 1.45 a.m. on Wednesday (April 5) after alarms went off.

He was confronted at the scene by a number of men wearing masks and carrying baseball bats.

One of the intruders threw a stone, which broke the windscreen of Mr. Cassidy’s Suzuki jeep.  The gang, who had stolen cigarettes from the shop, then fled the scene.

Mr. Cassidy was shocked but otherwise unharmed by his experience. Gardaí at Swinford are investigating.