I thank the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O'Donoghue, for coming in to address this problem. This is the third time I have had to raise this matter on the Adjournment in the past six months. On the Order of Business, including yesterday, I raised it at least five times with the Taoiseach. It is becoming extremely exasperating for my northside constituents that this horrendous problem continues to plague our streets.
The Christmas and new year period in Dublin North-East and in many parts of Dublin North-Central were marked by a continuing upsurge in the menace of joyriding. Virtually every day, sometimes in the middle of the day, a number of these criminals caused terror and threatened the lives of residents in Coolock, Ayrfield, Donaghmede, Raheny and Kilbarrack. Whether through a lack of Garda resources or support from the Director of Public Prosecutions and the judicial system, or simply a lack of will on behalf of the Minister, the problem continues to exasperate and endanger the lives of my constituents.
In one six-day period, from Christmas Eve to New Year's Eve, four of my acquaintances on organisations with which I am involved had their cars wrecked, stolen or burned out. I speak from experience given that I was the victim of an attempted car theft on New Year's Eve. It is critical that the Minister acts before another of my constituents is seriously injured or killed by the thugs responsible for joyriding.
A number of tragic fatalities have been caused by these criminals in Dublin's northside in recent years. In 1998 three deaths were caused by similar criminals in Cork city. Since early last year I have asked the Taoiseach on at least five occasions on the Order of Business to take action. I appeal to the Minister and the Taoiseach to implement the Road Traffic Act, 1994, which I understand empowers the Garda to stop any car where it considers the driver is uninsured or under age. If that Act is not sufficiently effective, the Minister should amend it or introduce a new Bill to outlaw joyriding and associated car theft by imposing severe custodial sentences on the perpetrators. I am willing to draft the legislation if necessary and to ask for the Minister's support to put it through.
This type of crime and associated civil disorder would not be tolerated for one instant in the leafy middle class suburbs of Dublin's southside or of Cork's southside or many rural areas. My constituents and I want to know why it is, seemingly, tolerated in more deprived areas, particularly in my constituency. Why do the J and R districts of the Garda Síochána not seal off the areas affected? In the case of north Coolock it would simply mean sealing the Priorswood Road at both ends to prevent joyriding cars getting into these areas. I ask the Minister not to allow no-go areas to spring up again, as happened under some of his predecessors.
I accept that the gardaí in Dublin North-East, under superintendents Flynn and Long, are working hard at the problem but they are seriously under-resourced. There are fewer than 200 gardaí to police well over 90,000 people, which is extraordinary when compared with similar areas such as Limerick city. It is the Minister's responsibility to provide Garda resources. I urgently request him to transfer at least 60 extra gardaí to the Coolock, Raheny and Howth stations.
The Taoiseach and the Minister for the Environment and Local Government have huge responsibilities in regard to the underprovision of resources to combat the social problems which produce joyriding and major crimes. As a member of Dublin City Council I called for the implementation of major changes in traffic calming at Glin Road, St. Donagh's Road, Newbrook Road, Swan's Nest Road and the other main thoroughfares which these criminals use to terrorise my constituents at night. Public representatives such as myself and the Minister's colleague, Deputy Woods, the Dublin City Manager and Commissioner McHugh, who once looked after the area, should be called to a meeting with a view to supporting communities to root out this problem. I realise there are underlying social problems and that the Government has made some efforts such as support for the village centre at Darndale, Belcamp parish. Sometimes we get exasperated, for example, at the announcement for youth and sports grants when communities are required to come up with 5, 10, 20 or 30 per cent of the available moneys. We are talking about poorly resourced communities.
On behalf of Dublin northside, will the Minister take the necessary measures to stop this crime once and for all, provide extra Garda resources and bring together the social partners, under the commissioner, to look at radical ways to solve this problem? The commissioner will have confirmed that my constituency is the worst area in the country for this problem. Perhaps it was endemic in the area many years ago and that some of the people associated with it came out of prison. We do not want any more deaths on our streets. We want the problem solved once and for all.