Close circuit television coverage of minors fighting each other at the Ballinakill Shopping Centre has highlighted the persisting anti-social problems being caused by young males in the area.
CCTV stills received by this newspaper have underlined the intimidating and at times violent atmosphere that has become increasingly prevalent at the Centre, located just off the Dunmore Road.
Residents in several estates across the city have grown increasingly vocal regarding the torment they’re experiencing due to incidences of anti-social behaviour, which have escalated during the school holidays.
Fianna Fáil City Councillor Gary Wyse, who is currently dealing with anti-social difficulties in five different estates, has declared that enough is enough.
“Parents need to know where their children are,” said Cllr Wyse. “They need to take responsibility for their children and be what they are supposed to be – parents.”
Cllr Wyse, who has four children of his own, admits that it’s impossible for parents to watch over children 24 hours a day.
Despite this, he said there is an onus on all parents to take account of where their children are and, more importantly, what they’re doing away from their supervision.
Thugs and blackguards
“Anti social behaviour has always struck me as a nice way of describing thugs and blackguards,” Cllr Wyse added.
“What’s going on in many of our estates and outside shops and businesses is not new by any means – it’s always been there. But in the past, rightly or wrongly, the consequences of behaving like this were far more pronounced than what they are now. It does make you wonder where we are heading as a society.”
A resident from a nearby estate, who wished to remain nameless, said he now does his best to avoid the Ballinakill Centre due to the intimidatory atmosphere caused there by youths.
“It’s no reflection on the people there who are trying to make their living in Ballinakill, but it really feels like it’s not worth your while going into the shop there or to use the ATM because of the pack of young lads that seem to be always hanging around there,” he said.
“I was pelted with snowballs down there last Christmas and I’ve seen elderly people shaken up very badly because of the way these clowns go on. They hang around the shop door and it almost feels like they’re daring each other to upset anyone coming in and out of the shop.
“We need Guards on the beat out there on a regular basis, letting these kids know that they’re being watched, because right now they feel they can do whatever they like because they’re under 18.”
Cllr Wyse said that many residents “are at the end of their tether” given the escalation in anti-social behaviour in several parts of the city.
“Property is being damaged regularly, kids are stealing and driving cars through estates, they’re drinking, they’re taking drugs, they’re urinating in public and they’re fighting,” he stated. “This can’t go on.”
At Monday’s Joint Policing Committee meeting of Waterford City Council, Cllr Wyse said it was incumbent on Gardaí and the local authority “to step up to the mark” on behalf of upset residents.
“What’s clearly needed is a zero tolerance policy when it comes to dealing with these thugs,” he said.
“We need to do whatever is necessary to make them realise that there are consequences for behaving like this, and if this involves holding their parents responsible, then so be it.”
To act as an anti-social deterrent, Cllr Wyse believes that on the spot fines should be imposed upon parents of those responsible for damaging property.
“If we hit people in the pockets, then a lot of this behaviour would be cut out,” he claimed.
“I have spoken to Gardaí who find it very frustrating having dropped kids to their homes only to find that within 10 minutes, the kids are back out again, hanging around, looking to create hassle for someone.
“What kind of message are the parents of such young people sending out to their neighbours and the wider community?
“Well, I’m sick and tired of it, residents affected by this sort of careless, selfish attitude are sick and tired of it and I really don’t see why law-abiding citizens in Waterford should have to put up with this thuggery for a moment longer.
“It’s got to stop and the time is long overdue for some parents to do what parenting demands of them.”