herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Out of control teens must be tackled if we want our city back

One of the great joys of living in a city like Dublin is that you're never far from a park or a beach.

And if last year's surprisingly sun-filled summer is anything to go by, our public spaces look set to be full of families and teenagers out enjoying the good weather in the coming months - getting fresh air, kicking back and generally enjoying themselves.

My kids are lucky enough to live in easy walking distance of Fairview Park and Dollymount Strand - both fabulous city amenities.

They're old enough now to be able to hang out with friends without having their mother constantly in attendance, much to their relief.

afraid

They can enjoy the good weather and get away from the blasted Xbox and computer. Or at least so I thought. But these days I'm more than a bit afraid to let them out on their own.

The problem is that our beaches, parks and public spaces are attracting some of the worst sort of anti-social behaviour we've ever seen in this country.

Or indeed any country. And it's ruining life for the rest of us.

Just this week a local man with special needs was attacked in Fairview Park while he was minding his own business.

A gang of thugs threatened to set him on fire and recorded the attack on a mobile phone.

The gang who attacked him were all teenagers, just kids, who for some reason think this sort of behaviour is macho.

Both my kids know that Fairview Park is a no-go area after about 6pm each evening, when it is taken over by marauding teens and drunken louts.

Where the hell are the parents? Do they have any idea how their little darlings entertain themselves on a warm spring evening? Do they care? And where are the gardai?

It's not just moronic thugs who make life hell for the rest of us during the summer.

This week residents of Malahide, at a Joint Policing Meeting, described how they regularly had to clean up after gangs of youths drinking on Northside beaches.

A few years ago gangs of teens, openly drunk and badly behaved, descended onto Portmarnock beach for a 'rave' which quickly turned to chaos and violence.

Then we have the kids who just like breaking stuff. Like the ones who went absolutely berserk last week on a Dart from Howth.

Around 50 youths began a fight after the train left the station, resulting in it being forced to stop at Bayside while gardai were called to deal with these violent cretins.

A spokesperson for Irish Rail said: "Other people got off the train that weren't involved". I'll bet they did! Can you imagine the terror of being trapped on a train with a horde of drunk, violent thugs, smashing and kicking everything they see?

Some time ago an American journalist wrote a column about her experiences of living in Ireland, entitled: "Why are the Irish so apathetic about anti-social behaviour?

shocked

She was shocked at our casual acceptance of youths vandalising property, getting drunk in public, harassing passing strangers, or generally behaving badly.

She noted: "People are surely fed up, but it seems the attitude is: 'Ah sure nothing will be done about it anyway'".

This isn't good enough. More than 700 tourists were mugged in Ireland last year. And that's just the ones who reported it. How many others will never return to these shores because of petty crime and anti-social behaviour?

Dublin is a great city to live in and to visit, but increasingly the actions of a small number of out-of-control youths is making life miserable for the rest of us.

We need to tackle it, collectively, parents, gardai and the general public, before we're all afraid to venture outside.

Enough is enough. It's time to take back our public spaces from the thugs.

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