IRISHTOWN CHAOS CAN’T CONTINUE
BUSINESS OWNERS VENT FRUSTRATION AT YEARS OF HASSLE AND INTIMIDATION
THREATS of assault, thuggery, playing chicken with traffic, littering and causing a public nuisance are among the offences committed by gangs of youths in Irishtown, according to local business owners.
Every Sunday crowds of between 20 and 100 plus gather in Irishtown, an area associated with the Travelling community, farmers and a robust business community.
The problem has gotten so bad that some business owners are struggling to find staff to work on Sunday evenings due to intimidation from large crowds of youths entering their premises and not leaving when asked to due to their raucous behaviour.
A local business owner, who asked to remain anonymous, said: ‘From Paddy Powers up to the graveyard you have gangs of youths, up to 100. Initially it was grabbing but it’s after escalating now and some of my staff don’t feel comfortable working.’
The businessman said the issue has come to a head. ‘ They are dashing out in front of traffic and have been throwing flour and eggs at businesses. They threw eggs in the front door of one premises and come into places shouting and roaring, messing with each other. It’s totally anti-social behaviour. It’s off-putting to other customers and it’s very difficult for the staff who are calling gardaí most Sunday’s now about this. If this continues there will be a big problem.’
The businessman expressed concern about elderly residents who are being hassled by some of the youths. ‘ The guards will have to come up here every Sunday night until this improves. When one comes in on his own he says nothing but the next day he could be in with a gang and they raise hell.’
Another business owner said the problem began around three years ago and has been getting worse. ‘I have staff who don’t want to come to work on Sundays because of the hassle. I have had thousands of incidents. It’s an absolute nightmare.
‘I’ve lost an awful lot of business on Sunday evenings which used to be very busy but with 60, 80, 100 youths outside roaring customers are put off from coming in.
‘ The youths come in, maybe 30 of them and only two would buy something and they will not go if you speak to them. They set out to give you a hard time. They just push you and push you and push you. I tried to talk with them in the beginning but I got nowhere.’
The businessowner praised the gardaí, saying most do an excellent job in dispersing the gang, adding that on one Sunday evening no squad car was available and yet there were two gardaí walking around Irishtown the following day.
‘One businessman got cut on his head when one of the boys threw an egg at him. The area has a reputation and people will not come in here on Sunday nights, but I’m not going to let them make me close my business.’
Staff at one premises, some of whom are foreign, have been racially insulted.
‘ They come and hang around the front and they are told to leave and their stock answer is “Why, do you own the footpath” or ‘Do you own the Irishtown”. I’m amazed some of them haven’t been killed crossing the road. They eyeball drivers as if to dare them to drive at them while they’re walking on the road.
‘Most of the offences are intimidation and public order, so they are falling between two stools as far as prosecuting them is concerned.’
An Irishtown resident who has been living in the area for over a decade said the problem has been getting progressively worse over the past four years.
‘ The younger ones are the worst with the screaming and shouting. The girls would be dressed up to the nines and it’s not just Sunday night, it’s Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights. The other night I saw four boys with their arms around a girl, grabbing her and she was screaming; she didn’t seem to mind it. People living in the area and visiting it are sick of this. They need to leave the residents alone. Some older residents are living in fear constantly. They are a real nuisance and most of them are local.’
The lady said they litter the area with cans of Red Bull, takeaway rubbish etc.
‘I don’t see any parents anywhere.’
Another local businessperson says the Irishtown area is like a spiritual Mecca for Travellers.
‘Many Travellers are buried in St Stephen’s who are not from the area. Travellers also attended fairs in Irishtown back in the 50s,’ Corcoran’s pub owner Joe Hall said.
He said the area’s history is interconnected with the Travelling community, as it is with the farming community, some of whom would have kept animals at Gantley’s in the 1950s. ‘ There is a tradition of them going to the cemetery.’
He said his business has not been affected. ‘I don’t find it that bad. They have never pelted here with eggs or flour. They mess around closer to the graveyard and they get a bit cheeky. The best thing is to ignore them (as they are looking for attention) or they will come back. It’s like a bit of a dance.
‘ The cheeky ones are trying to impress the young ones that are there. What I don’t find acceptable is messing the elderly residents around at their houses. They’re not local so they don’t give a hoot.
‘ The vehicles coming up and down is another big problem. Sometimes you get a group of vans. One of their favourite things to do is skidding their vans up and down the road. They are only trying to impress on the road, which is a huge wide road.
‘Personally, I am civil and distant and just say: “Please don’t mess here” and I don’t have problems with them. A lot of them are not from around here and it’s unfair to tarnish the lot with the one brush.’
An established business in the area has had constant problems with the group of youths, with some of the women using the premises ‘ to get dolled up’ before making an appearance on the thoroughfare outside.
‘We’ve had problems for the last 10 to 15 years here and in the graveyard, where they have also caused trouble as mourners were paying their respects.’
The owner said as soon as gardaí disperse the gangs, they re-form further down the Irishtown.
‘ They cause hassle all the time. I can’t even have a Sunday evening off because I have to be constantly on the look out. It’s the intimidation, the lack of respect and the obnoxious manner in which they speak.
‘ They have no manners and they are showing off. They grab the women’s hair and some throw eggs and flour. They are supposed to be God fearing people, going to Mass etc, but they don’t show it. They affect business because people won’t park their cars here with the vans around.
‘ The guards are doing their best. They are very good but it’s like beating their heads off a brick wall. It’s very frustrating. The young gangs get so brave and they think they can do what they like.’
One landlord had to invest in security gates and CCTV due to dumping in the Irishtown and anti-social behaviour.
‘ They run back and forth across the road (which is very dark). It will be an innocent who gets in trouble. The parents need to get involved.’
I HAVE HAD THOUSANDS OF INCIDENTS. IT’S A NIGHTMARE. I’VE LOST AN AWFUL LOT OF BUSINESS ON SUNDAYS
A quiet Irishtown on Sunday evening.