Claims of crime wave in south Kerry prompts promises of extra Gardaí

Shortage of officers in Cahirsiveen partly blamed on re-opening of Kerry Babies case


Anne Lucey

In Tralee

Senior gardaí in Kerry have promised extra resources for Cahirsiveen following an upsurge of crime and anti-social behaviour in the town.

Over 500 people turned out to a public meeting earlier this month to voice their concern at persistent public order issues, late night violence, drugs, and most recently a murder in the south Kerry town.

A petition was signed calling for 24 hour cover and extra gardaí, and a more visible presence on patrol and on the streets.

Gardaí in the county says their resources have been taken up by a recent murder case, injuries suffered by some officers in an accident and the recent re-opening of the Kerry Babies case.

The county’s joint policing body, which met in Tralee on Friday, heard how the re-opening of the 34-year murder enquiry into the Kerry Babies Case, ongoing since January, had placed further pressure on garda resources in south Kerry.

Garda numbers in south Kerry have fallen following restructuring in 2013, which saw the closure of outlying stations at Valentia Island and Ballinskelligs.

Once a separate Garda District, Cahirsiveen was subsumed into the Killarney Division, an hour and a half away. The town now has around 16 gardaí for an area covering Kells to Portmagee, Ballinskelligs, Valentia Island and Waterville. The station closes at night, when gardaí are on call and or mobile patrol.

Kerry’s Chief Garda said the people were being listened to. “We are listening to the people of Cahirsiveen. We have an old case, the Kerry baby case, which is taking up a lot of resources,” Chief Superintendent Tom Myers said in Tralee. A recent murder inquiry is taking up other resources and a number of members had been injured on duty due to an accident, he added.

Five new gardaí are coming to Kerry, and they will be assigned to Killarney, but the county would welcome fifty extra gardaí, Supt Myers said.

The location of a half-way house for men was also raised at the Cahirsiveen meeting. Councillors called for better garda vetting and a greater say by residents of local authority estates in the opening of such transitional facilities.

Youths were congregating and drinking at night, Cllr Michael Cahill said. “Residents feel intimidated. These people are drinking outside their doors. Parents should know where their teenagers are at night. “

Within days of the public meeting planned searches of 12 properties in south Kerry had seen drugs seizures of €35,000 worth of cannabis and the dismantling of grow houses.

Weekend cover was being stepped up in Cahirsiveen and garda over- time was being made available, Supt Flor Murphy of Killarney said.

Meanwhile, the JPC meeting was told about a “dangerous” and volatile feud which had erupted between Travellers in the county.

Killarney councillor Donal Grady said if nothing was done quickly it would get out of control.

A number of violent incidents in the past weeks have taken place in relation to the feud, including the beating up of teenagers with baseball bats in a housing estate, a street fight in Killarney, and the arrival of a large group of Travellers form north Kerry at the home of a rival family in the town.