*Photograph: John Mangan
ENNIS is “getting a bad name” according to elected representatives who have claimed that daylight drinking is increasing in the county town.
Insisting that it was a “very small number” of persons predominantly responsible for all the anti-social behaviour issues in Ennis, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) felt the lines of communication between the Ennis Municipal District and An Garda Síochána needed to be open “to address this issue in a more impactful way”.
She recounted that in the month of September she was walking the streets of Ennis at lunch time, “I saw two individuals drinking in daylight, they were not well able to walk either, we have a concern with the supply of alcohol, they were Bulmers cans actually, I was approached by one lady who knew me and asked why it wasn’t addressed. Sometimes the county councillor is the first port of call and the response is we are doing our best but we’re not the Gardaí. The individuals I saw are not engaging with Clare County Council”.
Persons that she witnessed drinking alcohol in the middle of the day across the town are “causing distress” but are “not engaging” with the County Council when it comes to accommodation, the Ballybeg resident stated.
A close family member of Colleran Molloy’s recently witnessed a female Garda “having strong intervention with one of these individuals recently and that is what we need more of,” she maintained. A bigger Garda presence is needed around the town to quieten “the small number of two or three people causing the grief”.
Regionalised Garda structures is having “a negative impact on our county town,” Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) stated. “Criminals are behaving badly in the town,” he lamented, “it is a very small section of our society who believe they are untouchable”.
Addressing a meeting of the Ennis MD, Superintendent John Ryan recalled that on one occasions on the beat this summer they were attempting to move on people who were causing anti-social behaviour and Gardaí were then questioned by members of the public “asking us why we were moving them on. I understand people walking the streets feel intimidated but we can’t just move them on if they aren’t causing any difficulty”.
He continued, “Yes if they are drinking cans we can be proactive but by just being there we can’t do an awful lot to it. We’ve done a lot during the summer, I’d love to see more Guards on the street and out and about more but because of the processes we have and the numbers we have I can’t do anything about it”.
On his way to the meeting in the Council Chamber, he said he walked past Ennis Courthouse, “we have quite a number of Guards there because of the amount of cases we have”. Demands on Gardaí are increasing all the time, Supt Ryan explained. “To run Ennis takes a minimum of six Guards, we keep two cars going all the time but that is just dealing with the calls, the new model is bringing us to areas like Tulla which we wouldn’t have had to respond to previously”.
Instances of persons drunk in Ennis town centre at 11am were also witnessed by Cllr Mary Howard (FG). She said during her time on Ennis Town Council, two Polish men who were homeless “developed a level of fame”. The Clare public are too generous when it comes to aiding rough sleepers, she said, “People think they are doing the right thing by giving them money, if you want to help, give them food”.
Mayor of the Ennis MD, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) observed, “there was very little crime in the 1960s but Ennis has completely changed, you have the drugs and the fighting on the streets”. He continued, “There is an element of people at the Square every day, there is a certain element of people which is not good for Ennis and it is giving us a bad name”.