CARRIGALINE locals have defended their town after becoming the centre of an international social media storm.
A violent incident in the town involving teenagers was spread on social media and was seized upon by ‘sinister forces’ who want to use it to spread division in society, they said.
Local resident Audrey Hastings said Carrigaline suffers from the same problems that every large urban area has, but added: “I love Carrigaline, love the amenities and the coast and how close it is to the city. There are complaints about a lack of Garda presence, but thankfully I have never needed to call them.”
Audrey has a teenage daughter and she keeps a close eye on her. “In general, and in lockdown with no school, no clubs, no work, it is tough on young people and it is a small minority that gets everyone into trouble and gives the place a bad name.”
Fellow resident Michelle Kelly said she wouldn’t be afraid for herself but worries about young people.
“I have a 14-year-old granddaughter and I would be concerned about her in the next few years.
“There are definitely more gardaí around, but they can’t be everywhere. There is always anti-social behaviour. It is people older than club-going age, 16 to 17, hanging around, no work, no school, time on their hands. I think it has a lot to do with parental control.”
Fianna Fáil councillor Seamus McGrath accepted there were some problems for the town, which exploded in size over the last two decades. “We are playing catch up with facilities and infrastructure in Carrigaline, but progress is being made and I genuinely believe Carrigaline will see major changes in the near future.
“The issue of Garda resources has been well documented. In a town of 17,000 people, plus a large hinterland, we would strongly argue we need better coverage.
“We need a Garda station open better hours and more consistently, but I think what most people want is better Garda visibility on the ground.”
Carrigaline Community activist Barry Cogan said: “I have a lot of contacts in different circles and people feel safe in Carrigaline. There is no gang culture in Carrigaline.
“The lockdown has an effect on everybody’s lives and everyone’s social interactions, it has a part to play in recent events.
“I would be warning people to not get caught up on social media and don’t reshare things. Carrigaline has a very diverse community and is very welcoming to all.”
Chairman of the Carrigaline Community Association Michael Wall said: “I accept there have been one or two incidents, but that is very small considering the population of Carrigaline. There are always issues in built-up areas.
“Young people are always going to congregate together. That does not mean they are turning to anti-social behaviour. The negative publicity does not reflect the values of Carrigaline. Most people get on with their lives and don’t get into trouble.”
Secretary of the Cedarwoods Residents Association, Des Meade, has living in Carrigaline for decades.
“There is caution in the community of late, but there are gangs everywhere, not just Carrigaline. Wherever there are kids, there are gangs of kids getting up to mischief.
“It is a safe town but there are always certain elements, but events are relatively unusual. It is a case of a few people giving everyone a bad name, it happens everywhere.”
The Residents Association spokesperson said we are living in an age of instant coverage on social media.
“We are living in unusual times, parents and families are pinned to the collar in terms of keeping the kids entertained. Covid-19 has created a different situation to deal with. It is not a dangerous place.
"I have raised three daughters here, you are going to have incidents in every society.”
Secretary of the Carrigaline Business Association, Adrian O’ Herlihy, said Carrigaline was generally a safe town.
Mr Herlihy said all towns have challenges but added: “This is a very safe community. To an extent, families are always going to be worried about young children, but you can’t lock up your kids.
“Things aren’t perfect, there are always going to be problems, that doesn’t brand the whole community.
“It is never going to be a utopia, bad things are going to happen.”
The idea that young people have nothing to do doesn’t really stand up, according to Mr Herlihy.
“There is always something to do if you look for it.
“People are surviving the lockdown, it is not an excuse to go looking for trouble.”