A small section of the crowd at Saturday's protest on the beach at Bettystown.
It’s a 30-minute drive from Ashbourne to Bettystown but trained Garda drivers could probably shave 10 minutes off that time if they were responding to a 999-emergency call.
The Guards responding to the barbaric scenes in Bettystown town centre last week got there as quickly as they could, but the savages who had run amok in the seaside town had long since crawled back under their rocks by the time they got there.
Ironically, the responding Gardaí would have passed the local Garda station, which is five minutes or less from the scene but was closed at the time because it is only a part time station.
Drogheda Garda station is much closer than Ashbourne or Navan but 999 calls originating from anywhere in County Meath are put through to Navan which is the divisional Headquarters for Meath.
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This is utter nonsense and it must stop as soon as possible. People young and old have a right to feel safe in their homes and on the streets and be able to enjoy the beach without interference from anyone else. The current system does not allow them to enjoy those freedoms.
Local politicians have been calling for change to this idiotic system for some time but it seems their pleas have so far fallen on deaf ears.
On Saturday a group of local residents brough their case out into the open once again by staging a protest on the beach.
They are demanding that the powers that be provide them with the policing resources that a town of some 18,000 people deserve instead of being treated as a small village as they are currently.
As one person at Saturday’s beach protest pointed out, on a sunny summer’s weekend the population of Laytown and Bettystown can double thanks to the huge number of visitors but that coincides with the time that the local Garda station is closed.
Nobody is saying that the Gardaí are not doing their job but the huge increase in population in the East Meath area over the past number of years has meant that the job has changed and the Garda presence must be increased rather than reduced.
East Meath is not of course the only area that has seen a breakdown in the accepted standards of public behaviour of late – witness the dreadful scenes on the streets of Dublin and Cork, but at least they had a Garda presence.
In a statement issued today, An Garda Siochana says they will continue to patrol and manage crowds on public streets and spaces.
To be fair, they have increased patrols in Bettystown and Laytown in the wake of the violence, but the demands by locals for a 24/7 Garda station in the area must not be put on the long finger.
The top brass at Garda HQ and the Department of Justice must treat this issue with the urgency it deserves. Common sense must prevail and this densely populated area must get it’s own full time Garda station.
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