Plea for help from elderly residents who are hassled for money and tinfoil by drug users

Plea for help from elderly residents who are hassled for money and tinfoil by drug users
Albert Road & Hibernian Buildings, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

FED-UP residents of the Albert Road area have highlighted a rise in anti-social behaviour and drug-taking in the community which they say is coming from a multitude of halfway houses located nearby.

The Echo has met with locals who complained of being hassled for money and asked to buy tinfoil for addicts while others have reported drug deals, public drinking and people urinating in front of children.

A 92-year-old resident was abruptly awoken in the middle of the night by aggressive banging on her downstairs bedroom window and another had his house burgled while visiting the park across the road.

A number of elderly residents, who have spoken to The Echo anonymously for fear of retaliation, said things have deteriorated dramatically due to the increase in halfway house facilities in the dockland area.

They acknowledged the need for these facilities but said there are too many in the locality and insisted that the centres require increased Garda surveillance.

Sergeant Stewart Philpott, from the Cork Garda Community Policing Division, said they are aware of the issues on Albert Road. “We know there is anti-social behaviour and we have increased patrols as a result.

“There is now a security presence in Shalom Park in the evenings and the area is being targeted as part of our campaigns.

Albert Road & Hibernian Buildings, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Albert Road & Hibernian Buildings, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

“We tailor our response with regards to the information we receive from residents and traders and local groups so the more information we have the better,” he added.

Gardaí are also in the process of setting up a community safety forum for the area in the next two weeks.

“It is on our radar. We are very aware of it and we are working with local residents and businesses.

“Once the safety forum is set up, we will be organising a safety text alert system tailored to the group.

“We are working with the council to clean up the area,” Sgt Philpott said.

In response to a query from The Echo, Cork City Council said it did not know how many halfway houses were in the area and also said that in some cases, a property being used as a halfway house does not require a separate planning permission application.

“If permission is given for a dwelling and the use is later changed to halfway house or something similar, it may not always come to the attention of a planner as it is not necessary, in all circumstances, to seek further planning permission,” a spokesperson said.

City Hall also said there has been no development on the installation of CCTV for the area, an issue raised by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin almost two years ago.

“There has been no development to date on the installation of community CCTV in this location,” the City Hall spokesperson added.

“Such schemes are required to go through an approval process with the Gardaí and the Joint Policing Committee and currently, there are only two such schemes in operation in Cork City.”

Cork Simon has no halfway house facilities on Albert Road, but they have a high-support project on Victoria Road.

“We have an active Good Neighbour Policy where we would address with our residents in question any concerns our neighbours might bring to our attention,” Cork Simon Campaigns and Communications manager Paul Sheehan said.

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