Cherry Orchard louts must be taught a lesson before they get really out of hand


What happened in Cherry Orchard last Monday night was shocking, but it was not surprising.
It was not surprising to those of us who have warned for months that chronic anti-social behaviour is on the rise and going unchecked.
It was certainly no surprise to the countless thousands of decent law-abiding people living and working in city centres or large housing estates who daily see their community tormented by feral teenage gangs, who fear no one, least of all the Gardaí or the justice system.
Though it would be unfair to link this rise in anti-social behaviour exclusively with the lengthy lockdowns, the fact that large parts of our cities and towns were shut down and emptied of all activity, caused a small few to imagine that these streets were now an unsupervised, no-go playground where they could act with impunity.
The rise is no mere perception. As I pointed out here, a few weeks ago, Fine Gael’s claim that our streets are among the safest in Europe does not pass the smell test.
Yes, there are statistics saying that reported crime here is low, but is that proof that crime is low, or that the reporting of it is low? Based on my constituency inbox it’s the latter… and I think any teenager will tell you the same.
Irish social media channels are now replete with videos of attacks, fights, and all manner of seriously violent behaviour. It’s in the streets, in shops, on buses and trains. We are not imagining this or blowing it out of proportion. This problem is real. And it is growing.
This is not the boisterousness of youth going unchecked. No more than it is some understandable consequence of social deprivation. This is criminality. Juvenile criminality. And if it continues to go unchecked and unconfronted, it will breed the next generation of gang members.
You would need to be very naïve not to detect the insidious hand of drug gangs in what is happening. Not that they are plotting this rise in anti-social behaviour as a deliberate strategy. Rather that they have a vested interest in fostering a new generation of gormless foot soldiers willing to turn their community into a no-go area for law and order, respect, or common decency.
Amid all the hype and the glare of media attention it should not be forgotten that while the immediate target of last Monday’s recklessness were the brave Gardaí who narrowly avoided serious injury, or worse, the wider primary target was the whole community of Cherry Orchard.
It was the neighbours of those directing the mayhem. The hard-working majority who simply want to live their lives in peace and calm. They were the victims last Monday, just as they were on the countless days before that, when the media spotlight was falling elsewhere.
We are told that saturating the area with Gardaí is not the answer. This is a glib response that avoids the reality that this is an issue of law and order. The people of Limerick know from experience that dramatically increasing Garda presence, over a prolonged period is a vital first step in challenging and repelling endemic criminality.
We saw first-hand that having a highly visible and active garda presence both limits the capacity of those willing to terrorise their own communities and reassures their intended victims. Have no doubt, if the local Garda command could have sent more resources to last Monday’s scene than just one squad car, then the people of Cherry Orchard would have been the first to cheer.
A point made by Deputy O’Callaghan in a radio interview with which I strongly agree is that showing these kids now that their actions have consequences will do them a huge favour in the long run. The tools to do this are there. Though the Children’s Act is primarily focussed on juvenile crime prevention and diversion, it does give the authorities a range of sanctions and punishments (in Section 98) for those under 18, including fines, community sanctions, supervision orders, or orders for a parent/guardian to be bound over.
The bottom line is that youngsters engaged in anti-social behaviour need to see that you pay a price for disrespecting your neighbours and your community, and that the State will demand that price. It is better this simple lesson in civics is learned now, than see a new generation end up behind bars in three or four years’ time.

Share This

Scroll to Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy for more information.

Subscribe to my newsletter

Advanced Search

Search archived posts using our predictive search facility.
Note: Predictive search currently only works with english translation.