Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has given more details of the scoping exercise she has asked the former director of the Probation Service, Vivian Geiran, to carry out into the impact that criminal activity in Drogheda is having on the local community.
Speaking in the Dáil last Thursday the Minister said that Mr. Geirin will gather and assess information relating to the ongoing challenges and needs experienced by communities in Drogheda, and identify opportunities to connect, support and strengthen services, including those for young people, in the area.
“Mr Geiran will look at the areas of community safety, policing, the impact of substance abuse, and drug-debt intimidation, but also at community development needs, the existing service landscape, including facilities for families and children’s services, the physical environment, and education and employment opportunities.
“ Mr Geiran has now commenced work which will take between six and ten weeks to complete, during which time Mr Geiran will be gathering information and assessing the scale and nature of the problem there in order to map the services available and identify any gaps.
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“Mr Geiran will engage with residents, service providers including An Garda Síochána, businesses and other members of the community and draw on their local knowledge and understanding of the problems to identify key opportunities for action.
“The issues in Drogheda have on occasion spilled over into neighbouring areas and where relevant to the scoping exercise, they will be taken into account.
I can assure you that this scoping exercise will be the foundation for a comprehensive response to the issues in Drogheda, and I will await its results with interest.
“As I have mentioned, the issue in Drogheda has spilled into neighbouring areas and, where relevant to the scoping exercise, this will be taken into account. It is a matter I discussed with Mr. Geiran. It will take into account that this problem does not just have an impact on the people of Drogheda, although it is the main focus. We have seen how it seeped into other communities, towns, villages and rural areas. I have asked Mr. Geiran to ensure there is no limit if he feels he needs to go further than the town.
Addressing local Deputy Fergus O’Dowd and Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú from Dundalk who had both asked questions on the topic, the Minister said that she had asked Mr. Geiran not to hold back on what he feels is needed, it should not just be about additional funding.
“There are, of course, services and supports. We heard very clearly from many people at the march earlier this year that some of the organisations need additional support, help and funding.
“However, there needs to be a particular focus on where we can better connect and better integrate the services that are already in place, where we can link people in a better way and understand what each one is doing and where they can understand themselves in order that they can support people and provide a greater wraparound service.
“We are also considering that the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland very much focus on community policing, and this will be a particular priority here. Whatever we do, and whatever recommendations come out of this, they will feed into the overall work being done by An Garda Síochána.”
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