30 May 2002 Edition

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Warrenpoint addresses anti-social behaviour

The Tom Williams Sinn Féin Cumann organised a very successful meeting in Warrenpoint Town Hall on Thursday 23 May in response to the spiralling levels of anti-social behaviour and criminal activity in the area.

South Down Sinn Féin Assembly member Mick Murphy shared the platform with fellow Sinn Féin councillor Mickey Ruane, cumann activist Cal Tinnelly and two SDLP councillors - Hugh Carr and Michael Carr.

Paddy Molloy from Community Restorative Justice in Belfast, gave a brief outline of the day-to-day success of Community Restorative Justice groups working with communities in Belfast. Leo Foy, representing Newry & Mourne Drug Partnership, astounded some local parents when he outlined the scale and availability of all types of illegal drugs in the area.

A lively question and answer session allowed people to comment on events taking place within their community. It was generally agreed that most of the existing problems could be solved by people themselves, but some members of the audience asked that further meetings be arranged to enlist the support of more people throughout the area.

Following the meeting Mick Murphy expressed his disappointment that representatives from local schools had declined the invitation to attend the meeting.

"The fact that so many people took time out to attend and participate in the debate tonight is a clear sign that people are willing and able to solve most of the problems which impact on their own neighbourhood and community," he said.

"A survey carried out in Newry & Mourne area showed that 39% of 16-year-olds had experimented with illicit drugs. However, underage abuse of alcohol has also contributed to anti-social problems within our community. The survey found that 61% of 16-year-olds have already tried illicit drugs or alcohol. I am certain that most parents will be alarmed that this survey was in fact carried out in 1996. We can only speculate how much more the situation has deteriorated since then.

"It is an acknowledged fact that we still do not have an acceptable policing service which people can feel comfortable to contact and trust to deal impartially with crime and anti-social behaviour in the area. Too often we have witnessed young people being coerced into passing on information to Special Branch in return for immunity from prosecution when they are arrested for some minor offence. Even those who urge support for the PSNI have been critical of their response to petty crime and vandalism in the area.

"Sinn Féin is urging people to support any CRJ initiative set up in this and other areas. This will allow people at local level to participate in helping to solve most problems within our community."

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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