Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am delighted to welcome to you all here today for the announcement of the latest round of successful applicants under the Community-based CCTV scheme. My thanks to Ciarán Murray for his words of welcome.
It is a pleasure to be here in Ballymun this morning and to see the progress that is being made with the regeneration project. The Government remains strongly committed to the ongoing regeneration which will not only see the development of a vibrant Town Centre and Main Street but also the provision of shopping and community facilities in the local neighbourhoods.
It is an historic project, bringing together the commitment, expertise and energy of many interests in creating the new Ballymun and in forging a sustainable community. An important element of ensuring that sustainability is to promote community safety.
Community-based CCTV Ballymun
I firmly believe that CCTV can be an important support to the Gardaí and communities alike in preventing, detecting and deterring criminal and anti-social behaviour. CCTV cannot be, nor is it intended to be, an alternative to Gardaí on frontline duty. However, it is a familiar technology that can work as an effective aid to policing, assisting the work of Gardaí in communities and allowing communities to assist the Gardaí in their work.
The Community-based CCTV Scheme, which is in operation since 2005, provides capital grants to enable local organisations to install CCTV schemes in their local areas. The Scheme is funded by my Department and, where successful applications are from RAPID areas, the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs provides matching funding.
An essential feature of the scheme is partnership – partnership between local interests and organisations; partnership between communities and local authorities; and partnership between communities and An Garda Síochána.
I am happy to be able to announce today the award of €1 million to five applications for CCTV systems in Ballymun. These applications involve Dublin City Council, Ballymun Regeneration Ltd., the Ballymun Neighbourhood Council and An Garda Síochána, with technical input from Mongey Communications, and are proof positive of successful community partnership in action.
This grant funding will allow the groups involved to push ahead with their CCTV projects for the local neighbourhoods – in Balcurris, Coultry, Poppintree, Shangan and Sillogue/Sandyhill. In conjunction with a range of other measures being taken, the operation of these CCTV systems will make a strong contribution to improving the Ballymun neighbourhoods.
The CCTV systems will be installed and operated by the community with the full support of the local Gardaí who will be able to access the CCTV systems to support their policing in the area.
Community–based CCTV other areas
Of course, today’s announcement concerns not only Ballymun. I am also happy to announce the award of grants to proposals for CCTV systems from 15 other areas around the country:
Athboy, Ballymahon (Longford), Drogheda, Dundalk, Ennis, Kilkenny, Limerick, Longford Town, Manorhamilton, Mullaghmatt (Monaghan), Thurles, Tralee, Moatview/Darndale in north Dublin, Tymon Bawn in Tallaght and North West Inner City Dublin.
The locations span a range of city areas together with large and smaller towns and in all of these areas partnership at local level with a strong commitment on the part of the communities to enhancing the safety of their local areas is demonstrated by the successful CCTV proposals.
The total amount of grant-funding being awarded today is over €2.75 million. It is a sign of the Government’s ongoing commitment to investing in CCTV. Already to date under the community based scheme, including today’s announcement, 42 local community groups have been awarded capital grant funding. Indeed the Programme for Government commits to the further expansion of such schemes. This is of course in addition to the ongoing expansion programme for Garda CCTV systems with an additional 18 town centre schemes currently being implemented around the country. By the end of this year, it is anticipated that there will be 27 Garda CCTV systems in operation.
The partnership to which I have referred is fundamental to facing up to the problems posed by criminal and anti-social behaviour. The ongoing, committed support of each and every individual is essential to ensure that the forces of law and order – the Gardaí, courts and prisons – can contribute to developing and ensuring community safety.
Unfortunately, crime and anti-social behaviour have the potential to damage communities and can deeply impair the quality of people’s lives. We all have a duty, whoever we are and whatever we do, to work against it. For my part, I am committed to the current actions being taken to resource the criminal justice system and I stand squarely in support of the Garda Síochána in the work it is doing on our behalf to face these challenges.
Ballymun Community Safety Strategy
In this context, I want to pay tribute to the work of the local Gardaí here in Ballymun and to thank them for their efforts. I know that in addition to their involvement in targeted policing initiatives such as Operation Anvil, they set great store by community policing, engaging with the local residents groups and the eight Neighbourhood Watch schemes in the area.
As part of the support to the regeneration of Ballymun, the local Gardaí, in conjunction with Ballymun Regeneration Ltd., the City Council and other community interests, have developed the Ballymun Community Safety Strategy. This three-year initiative provides for a structured, inter-agency approach to crime prevention and community safety through targeting anti-social behaviour, drug abuse and public order offences in the area. These problems are not unique to Ballymun, of course, but this collaboration is a new approach to engaging all involved in building a sustainable community.
I am committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána continues to be provided with the resources necessary to carry out its functions. One practical example is the new Garda Station being built here in Ballymun which places the Gardaí at the heart of the Town Centre and will allow the Gardaí to better serve the people of Ballymun. It will also cater for the growing numbers of Gardaí on duty here – there are currently 74 Gardaí of all ranks stationed in Ballymun.
In concluding, I extend my thanks to the Lord Mayor and to Dublin City Council. Particular thanks are due to Ballymun Regeneration Ltd. for its input with the City Council in developing the various CCTV proposals. I would also like to acknowledge the work done by Pobal on behalf of my Department on the Community-based CCTV scheme. The assistance of my colleagues Minister Éamon Ó Cuív and Ministers of State Noel Ahern and Pat Carey has contributed greatly to the success of the Community-based CCTV scheme.
We all share a common goal of making our communities around the country safer and better places to live. Let us continue to work together to achieve that.
31 July 2007