From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Western People 21 April 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
24, Apr 2004 - 11:52

Castlebar Gardaí offer new ideas on crime prevention

Crime Prevention through Environmental Design is now becoming a bigger issue among developers. Three representatives from An Garda Siochana gave a presentation to members of Castlebar Town Council and urged local developers to consider developing estates with crime prevention at the forefront. It is aimed at reducing the amount of money spent on investigating crimes which occur because of weaknesses in buildings. Sgt Seamus Gallagher, who is based in Harcourt Street in Dublin spoke to the meeting as did Sgt Tony Cosgrove who is based in Mayo. Sgt Gallagher said more and more developers were now sending in plans to the Crime Prevention Unit for assessment before starting work. He said he had been trained in assessing plans and once they were received he returned to the developer with a report on how to alter the plans to act as a deterrent for crime. Sgt Gallagher said the scheme had been used in eleven countries throughout Europe and America. The definition of the scheme is, ‘the proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime and an improvement in the quality of life.’ The principles of this were defensible space, community interaction, natural surveillance, estate design and target hardening. As well as housing estates, it can be used in office buildings, car parks, commercial areas, business parks, high risk premises such as those of Government buildings, etc, clubs and hotels and refurbishments. The benefits of ‘Designing out Crime’ include the creation of a safe and secure environment in which to live and work, which reduces the fear of crime; the opportunity to reduce the commercial consequences of crime and vandalism and create a more effective and aesthetic security solutions and to reduce the reliance on the emergency services.

Planners against crime. Some very interesting ideas here but unfortunately with the current attitude towards planners and planning I’m afraid this will simply fall on deaf ears. Mayo politicians have publicly stated that they want planners to be elected - just like most auctioneers in Mayo. So training and skills in planning and knowing what you are about are not regarded as important. What is important is that planners grant planning permission regardless of design aesthetics, location, health and safety, environment, etc. If politicians don’t believe that septic tank bacteria can pollute groundwater and drinking water why would they believe that planners can plan against crime? This kind of thing is just going to slow down the granting of permission. An extra barrier to obtaining planning permission – the crime barrier! No way Jose!


Lack of employment is key issue amongst voters

Western People reporter, Alan Healy took to the streets of Swinford, Foxford and Charlestown where he spoke to locals about the issues that are likely to be raised in advance of next June’s elections.

AS this summer’s local elections are fast approaching it will not be too long before we are inundated with politicians canvassing for votes and informing the electorate of the issues they need to concern themselves with. The Western People made a visit to the Swinford constituency and to the towns of Foxford, Swinford and Charlestown to let the local people themselves say what they think the issues are rather than the politicians. Situated under the shadow of Knock International Airport, Charlestown’s population is a town getting ready to change. The town has been in the news recently with the announcement of the new Charlestown by-pass as part of the road improvements on the N5 between Longford and Westport. The recently published Compulsory Purchase Order affects a number of the population as the 18km stretch of road goes through a large number of land and properties. The new single carriage road will run from the eastern end of the Swinford bypass to the Roscommon/Mayo border. Speaking to Charlestown residents, many felt that the bypass was a good step forward as traffic levels on the road at peak times leads to bad traffic jams and delays in the town and while most will be happy to see an end to congestion some people affected by the CPO want to be sure that they will be adequately compensated for the loss of their land.
A common complaint in all of Mayo’s smaller towns is the employment issue. Charlestown is no different. The window and door manufacturers, T. J. Grady Ltd are the only large employers in the area. Many in the town look forward to the arrival of the department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs which is moving to Knock Airport as part of the government’s decentralisation plans. However residents realise that in the short term it may not mean an immediate increase in job numbers. The social scene of Charlestown was also mentioned on the streets. What is there to do in the evenings other than go to the pub.

The Western People has been touring the constituency over the past few weeks asking what people feel are the real issues for June 2004. It looks like the basics are still important – no mention of black babies taking over the country or the need for Constitutional referendums here – just basics like jobs, sports facilities, roads, infrastructure and lack of progress with a whole range of apparently half-baked projects that have come to nought.


Drink driving cases in disarray

A decision by a District Court Judge to throw out more than 80 drink driving cases because of possible flaws in the operation of the intoximeter machine could throw hundreds of drink drive cases into disarray. Castlebar-based solicitor, Mr. Aidan Crowley, who has been pursuing an appeal in the High Court against the use of the intoximeter in Mayo said that he believes the decision by Judge Michael Patwell at Midletown District Court in Cork will mean that the weight given to intoximeter evidence "is a matter for each district court judge". Mr Crowley, who is a Fianna Fáil candidate in the town and county council elections, told the Western People: "I have no doubt the State will challenge the decision but in the meantime it is a matter for each district court judge to make their own decision in relation to cases before them. "Judge Patwell has taken the view that defendants should not be convicted on the basis of a machine reading that can’t be independently analysed. "What seems to be at issue is an interpretation of the legislation and that is a matter for the High Court. The ruling does not mean that all cases before the district court will be dismissed," he said. And Mayo gardai warned that it was "business as usual." Chief Supt John Carey made it clear yesterday (Monday): "We won’t be changing our procedures. It is business as usual." He said the drink driving legislation was the most picked over and there had been a huge number of challenges over the years. "It is most frustrating for the gardai," he said. Drink-driving cases from Mayo have been put on hold in the past following appeals to the High Court about the usage of the intoximeter machine. Gardaí in Mayo were among the first to use the machine when it was introduced three years ago.

Reading between the lines here I don’t think it means that you can forget about the drink-driving limits even if you had a mind too. I love when legal people get tangled up with technology. The intoximeter may have ‘possible flaws’ - possibly it has - but isn't just just as well that every device we use doesn’t have to be perfect? We'd never do anything. That pen that the judge writes his judgement with (he could never use a word processor because of the known flaws in Microsoft Software) could run out of ink. His car might not start. The remote control battery could go flat when watching La Law. We would never send an email because there’s no guarantee that it will arrive. Ditto for posting letters – especially of late. Even solicitors forget to tell their clients to turn up in court as in the Avril Doyle case this week! Oh to live in a perfect world! The law is indeed an ass.

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