“Public Safety Concerns of Carrickmacross residents must be addressed” – Matt Carthy MEP
Local MEP, Matt Carthy, has confirmed that he and his fellow Sinn Féin representatives have been liaising with community leaders, Gardaí and other statutory agencies as well as local landlords in a bid to alleviate the concerns expressed by residents in Carrickmacross recently.
These concerns have manifested online following a recent horrendous sexual assault in the town and have led to an online petition, signed by hundreds which asks “Do you feel intimidated when walking around Carrickmacross?”; the concerns expressed in the petition include many indicating that the presence of a groups of men ‘hanging around the Main Street’ is causing unease which has been exacerbated since the assault. However, a minority have also used online forums to create racially based attacks on whole sections of the community.
Echoing a statement issued on the local Sinn Féin Facebook page in the past week Matt Carthy said that the genuine concerns of residents needed to be addressed.
He said: “This week, alongside local representatives Noel Keelan & Colm Carthy, I met with senior Gardaí to discuss these issues. We have also been in discussions with other statutory agencies, community leaders and with local landlords to identify measures that can help resolve the fears that people have.
“This is about public safety, all of those who live in our town have the right to feel comfortable while walking the streets. This is not, and should not be turned into, a racial issue.
“If a large group of young adult men are gathered together in one spot it is, of course, going to cause unease. That is regardless of where they come from. Gardaí have assured us that they are aware of concerns and will continue to ensure that there is a growing police presence in our town in order to deter anti-social behaviour and to assure the public of their safety. While there has been an additional 24 additional Gardaí based in Carrickmacross over the past 18 months they are also expecting additional personnel to be located in the town over the coming months.
“We have also began to meet landlords who have been referenced in commentary. Our message to them is simple. They have an obligation to ensure that their tenants are not engaging in anti-social behaviour, they have to commit that they are not allowing overcrowding to happen on their premises and they have to engage with the local community. The landlords we have met have confirmed that they are willing to do all of these things. Time will tell”.
The Sinn Féin representative said that there are genuine concerns regarding the numbers of newcomers that have arrived in the town in recent times. Many of these concerns are founded on the already stretched nature of public services such as GP access. He said that there is a distinction between those from outside of the EU who are seeking asylum and those from within the EU who have the right to free-movement across all member states.
“For those asking where political parties stand on the issue of the housing of asylum seekers, let me be clear” he said, “Sinn Féin opposes the Direct Provision system which is a travesty for those who live within it. We have been scathing of the Department of Justice’s current policy of outsourcing the housing of asylum seekers to private companies and we have rightly said that the current policy is unfair on both the asylum seekers and the local communities who are not consulted and are refused information when it is sought. I have written to the Minister for Justice on several occasions requesting a meeting to discuss these issues but he has not even replied to my requests.
“It has been Sinn Féin that has long campaigned against the main cause of migration, i.e. western intervention in conflicts in Africa and the Middle-East, and it has been Sinn Féin that have campaigned for a speedier turn-around of asylum applications so that the pressures on asylum accommodation can be eased.
“For the record our party’s priority has always been simply to ensure that those people who are entitled to live in Ireland are treated with dignity and respect and that they have the same rights, and the same responsibilities, that we would expect to apply to those Irish people who move abroad”.
Matt Carthy also hit out at those who he said were attempting to manipulate the genuine concerns of residents for their own political and racist agendas. Ironically, he said, most of these people are from outside of County Monaghan themselves.
He said: “We are taking the concerns of our community seriously. But, we will not allow Carrickmacross to be presented as a bastion of racism by far-right bigots. Carrickmacross has always been a welcoming town. That has not changed. The genuine concerns of people regarding service provision or the fears that have emanated by the recent assault must be addressed by the government. We do not need former British soldiers or other right-wing elements using these concerns to further their own racist agendas or to launch attacks on members of our community.
“I, and my fellow Sinn Féin colleagues Noel Keelan and Colm Carthy, are from Carrickmacross. We know it is a great town and, as much as anyone, we want it to continue to be a great place to live, work and raise a family. We will resist anything that could make it otherwise, whether that be government policy, objectionable profiteering or racist activists.”