Written Answers. - Greenhills Residents' Association.

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

120 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice if he will meet, or has recently met, a deputation from Greenhills Residents Association concerning the extent of crime in the area; the steps he proposes to take to meet the fears of local residents; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I met members of the Greenhills Residents Association on 29 April, 1992 and we discussed problems in relation to crime in the area. In particular, the residents expressed concern at the problems caused by gangs of youths loitering in the area and the acts of vandalism carried out by such youths.

I have discussed this matter with the Garda authorities who have informed me that they are aware of the problems referred to. They have also informed me that a number of youths have been convicted or dealt with under the Juvenile Liaison Officer scheme while a number of other youths are currently before the Courts in relation to crimes committed in Greenhills. The area receives regular attention from foot and mobile patrols as well as from specialist units. A community Garda is also allocated to the area and eight Neighbourhood Watch schemes, which liaise closely with the gardaí, are active in Greenhills. The Garda authorities have assured me that they will continue to keep the situation in Greenhills under review.
I am of course very much aware of the problems which can be caused by intimidatory behaviour on the part of gangs of youths, and I have already outlined to the House proposals which I am considering to update the law in relation to certain public order offences. These proposals include the creation of offences relating to: (a) persons being found drunk (or under the influence of drugs) in such circumstances that they are a danger to themselves or others; (b) the use of threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour in a public place; and (c) disorderly conduct as, for instance, shouting, singing or boisterous conduct between the hours of 10.00 p.m. and 7.00 a.m. in circumstances which cause annoyance to other persons in the neighbourhood. These new offences would carry the power of arrest and liability to substantial fines and, if drink is involved, the gardaí would have the power to confiscate it on the spot.
I might add, for the information of the Deputy, that I am at present giving priority to the preparation of a new Juvenile Justice Bill which will update and replace existing legislation in this area.
I am confident that these legislative reforms will considerably strengthen the hands of the gardaí in dealing with juvenile crime in this country.