The Integration Question with Princess Pamela Toyin
A large crowd turned up at this year’s Fingal Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting, a yearly gathering organised across the North Dublin county to offer an opportunity for the public to meet and discuss with local authority officials and senior gardaí on matters of local relevance.
Residents of Dublin 15 and environs aired their concerns in a jam-packed meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blanchardstown, attended by Garda Superintendent Liam Carolan, Chief Supt Lorraine Wheatley, Inspector Anthony Twomey, and Sergeant David McInerney. Others include David Storey of Fingal County Council, Councillor Tania Doyle from Blanchardstown and JPC member Ann Murphy.
Cllr Kieran Denison, chair of the JPC, stressed that the committee was concerned about the levels, patterns and causes of crime. “It is important the Garda and community work together to help tackle anti-social behaviour and crime,” he said.
Sgt McInerney of the Garda Bureau of Community Diversity and Integration said that there have been huge changes within the force since large-scale immigration to Ireland, and though it’s been a challenge for gardaí to work with different communities from different countries, “it is a learning experience for guards to know them.”
In 2001, he explained, gardaí were given training to better understand minorities and community diversity. Currently there are 277 gardaí working as ethnic liaison officers, but on top of their work, Sgt McInerney stressed that host communities must learn to understand their migrant neighbours, as most of them had lost or were missing something in their lives before coming to Ireland.
“Prejudice and bias is always out there,” he said. “When you’re dealing with people you don’t know what’s going through their minds so you have to be balanced in your approach.”
Among questions over local parking issues and urban horses in its green spaces, concerned residents of Tyrrelstown quizzed gardaí present about a recent spate of burglaries as well as anti-social behaviour, which they described as “out of scale” – as well as claims of slow responses to reports of criminal activity.
One resident noted that they had never seen non-native people being employed by the Garda. Another queried the actual numbers of gardaí available to serve the community at any given time, suggesting that the State “must double the number”.
Cllr Tania Doyle said the local authority works hard at responding to community concerns, but there is a limit given their resources as to how much change they can affect. She advised people to contact their local TDs with their concerns.
Resources are also an issue for the Garda, said Supt Carolan, who warned of “challenging times ahead”.
His presentation noted that burglaries have increased by five per cent compared to last year, though criminal damage has reduced. Sgt McInerney added that there was provision to recruit more gardaí before the end of 2017.
“There’s a challenge as [Fingal] is the busiest county in the country. There’s a recruit ment process to get minorities and [second generation] immigrants into the Garda.”
Recognising there is often a disconnect between the Garda and communities, Chief Supt Lorraine Wheatley prompted the various Garda online and social media channels and implored: “You are the eyes of the Garda. Let us know what you see, whether strange or suspicious. We are here to listen and together we can provide a better place.”
Residents were assured that additional resources would be devoted to areas of their concern, as well as an increase in patrols, hand in hand with communities and residents associations renewing their commitment to long-established Neighbourhood Watch schemes.
Ann Murphy of the JPC said it was a good meeting with a good turnout, and that a report would be made and sent to the appropriate quarters.
Meanwhile, Insp Twomey promised that issues raised by Tyrrelstown residents would be addressed as soon as possible.
“I won’t certainly relent until the issues are addressed,” he said, asking residents to refrain from posting negative comments on the Garda Facebook page out of their frustration.
“It is through posting good comments that will build and encourage the Garda,” he added.
- Princess Pamela Toyin has gained experience since the mid 1980s working in various fields and interacting with people of different tribes and ethnicity. With her passion for diversity, she is propelled to report a diverse range of issues that facilitate intercultural dialogue and integration, which can change social, economic, and cultural stereotypes, and believes there are lessons to be learned from everyone. Talk to her on +353 (0)87 417 9640 or email email@example.com