New Ross Standard - - FRONT PAGE - By DAVID LOOBY

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.’


A quiet Irishtown on Sun­day evening.

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