CLONES ‘SUMMIT’ OF BORDER POLITICIANS ADDRESSES CRIME CONCERNS

26 October 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Cianna McNally

A summit of national and local politicians from both jurisdictions has probed possible solutions to dangerous driving and other forms of criminal activity generating concern among communities in the Clones Border area.
Last Friday’s meeting in Clones ended with Oireachtas members and MLAs pledging to intensify the pressure on the relevant Government Departments north and south to ensure there was no safe haven on either side of the Border for those engaging in driving offences and burglaries.
The meeting was attended by a number of Clones town councillors,   Mayor of Co Monaghan, Hugh McElvaney, Cavan-Monaghan TDs, Heather Humphreys, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and Brendan Smith, Senator Kathryn Reilly, MLA Sean Lynch and Paul Robinson from Fermanagh District Council.
Welcoming everybody present, Cathaoirleach of Clones Town Council Peter McAleer said that the issue of dangerous driving on that stretch of road had been a problem for years and it was getting worse. People living in the area and road users were intimidated by it.
“Police on both sides are at a loss as to how to deal with it so hopefully we can come up with a solution,” he commented.
Sinn Féin councillor Pat Treanor referred to the fact that the road is part of the route to Cavan General Hospital and added that a number of joint operations between the PSNI and gardaí had “thwarted” the dangerous driving activity on a few occasions.
However, the issue was a recurring one and Councillor Treanor felt that the departments of justice both north and south needed to work together to resolve it.
Cllr Treanor also spoke about the Connons area being targeted by burglars which he said the local community had had to deal with. “The community spirit is to be commended but they could be walking themselves into trouble,” he said before adding that this issue also needed attention.
Mayor of Co Monaghan Hugh McElvaney felt that the problem with the area where the dangerous driving was occuring was that it was not being properly policed.
He commented that when Councillor Deirdre Kelly had been Cathaoirleach of Clones Town Council she had suggested that the area should be “mapped into one side or the other” and he agreed with this suggestion.
Mayor McElvaney proposed that legislators on both sides of the Border would allow the road “to be properly policed by the gardaí” because he did not believe they were “targets” unlike the PSNI.
“People are intimidated because the people doing it (dangerous driving) know that there is nobody there to catch them,” the Mayor declared.
Councillor McAleer felt that getting any change made to legislation could be difficult because the area was recognised as an international border.
“Well then the problem will remain forever, ” Mayor McElvaney responded.
Councillor Paul Robinson said that the problem of dangerous driving was not just happening on the southern side of the Border as he had witnessed it at the Ballygawley roundabout at 2am one morning.
He had been made aware that the people involved in such activity received “tip-offs” about the joint operations between the gardaí and PSNI and moved from one side of the Border to another following a tip-off.
Cllr Robinson did not agree with Mayor McElvaney’s proposal that the gardaí should be allowed to police both sides of the road. “One part of the road is in the north and it should stay like that,” he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Deirdre Kelly agreed with Mayor McElvaney that it was a jurisdiction issue.
“The community has had to put up with this for many years and it’s unacceptable. We need to find a permanent solution or we’re going nowhere.”
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin felt that in order to deal with the issue it was not all about law and order.
“Part of it must be recognition that a cohort of mainly young people see this as a sport.” 
He suggested that an “appropriate facility that could accommodate such activity” would be sought.
“Trying to run them off the road could inculcate a greater determination in some,” Deputy Ó Caoláin added.
Fianna Fáil councillor Seamus Coyle said that the solution to the dangerous driving issue needed a cross-border approach and the political will had to be there.
He supported Deputy Ó Caoláin’s suggestion that a designated area would be found.
Deputy Brendan Smith quipped that tyres “must not be dear enough for these people” and said that he …

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