For the first time in 20 years, the so-called Guardian Angels are back patrolling the New York city subways following a spate of knife attacks on passengers.
Back in the 1990s the unarmed crime-prevention volunteers with their distinctive red berets made headlines all over the world as they helped rid the underground rail system of crime.
Eventually, as things improved, there was no further need for them and they faded away, until now.
The size and scale of the location, and the accents of those involved, are very, very different to New York but, last week, it was reported by our colleagues in The Laois Nationalist newspaper that civilian volunteer patrols are now openly operating on the streets of Portlaoise.
The patrols commenced after an elderly woman was followed by thugs and cornered in a supermarket lift where her purse was taken. It was, apparently, just one of many such incidents in the town of late.
A spokesperson for the ‘Volunteers’ said if his members observed somebody being robbed or threatened they would move in and restrain the assailant until the Gardaí arrived.
The only ‘Guardian Angels’ on the streets of New York or Portlaoise should be the real police but, unfortunately the presence of others is a sign of the times.