More robust laws needed over ‘incitement to riot via social media’ – FF says

Micheál Martin says ‘growing sense Government is losing the battle against crime’

Micheál Martin: ‘Injection of drugs on our streets and growing anti-social behaviour in streets and parks,”  compounded by a lack of resources for gardaí.

Micheál Martin: ‘Injection of drugs on our streets and growing anti-social behaviour in streets and parks,” compounded by a lack of resources for gardaí.

 

More robust laws are needed to deal with “incitement to riot and loot via social media”, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has warned following an incident in Cork earlier this month.

Mr Martin said the public believes there is a “growing lawlessness and open tolerance of such behaviour” as he highlighted “a very unsavoury event”.

Up to 100 masked youths gathered to riot and loot a shop in Cork city centre following a posting on social media when people were told to dress all in black and to “come at your own risk”, he said.

Mr Martin said that thankfully gardaí were able to handle it but it was concerning that 100 youths actually responded to the call.

The “planned riot and raid” followed similar attacks in London, Belgium and the Netherlands.

“It reflects a lack of fear of the consequences for such behaviour,” he said as he questioned if legislation is “robust enough to deal with incitement to riot and riotous behaviour”.

The Cork South-Central TD said there was a “growing sense that Government is losing the battle against crime” and a growing tolerance for anti-social behaviour and illicit drugs.

“The injection of drugs on our streets and growing anti-social behaviour in streets and parks,” was compounded by a lack of resources for gardaí, he said.

The attack on Quinn Industrial Holdings executive Kevin Lunney was the worst demonstration of growing lawlessness, he said.

There were other incidents including in Lucan, Co Dublin where there was the “brutal murder of a man in a housing estate”.

He cited an increase in violent crime resulting in deaths and serious injury as well as increased anti-social behaviour with 789 such reports on Irish Rail services.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that at one point last week only two gardaí were available in Cork city centre as she too criticised the intimidating behaviour of groups of youths in the city.

Replying for the Government during leaders’ questions, Minister for Business Heather Humphreys said more had been invested in gardaí than ever before and there were more gardaí on the streets than ever before. She said “we’re all concerned that criminals are brought to justice” adding that good progress has been made in the Lunney case.

Ms Humphreys stressed the Government was “absolutely committed” to combating violence and crime and has increased resources with a Garda budget of €1.882 billion for 2020.

She said they were also on course for 21,000 gardaí by 2021. Ms Humphreys stressed that decisions on the best use of these resources are an operational matter for the Garda Commission.

Ms Humphreys said organised crime groups continued to operate and to be a threat. However, she said the Proceeds of Crime Act gives powers to allow the immediate seizure of assets that were the proceeds of crime and there were a number of acts to assist gardaí including legislation on the use of DNA which prevents subversion.

However, Mr Martin said that statistics “don’t really cut it” with the public and asked if the Government acknowledged the growing sense of anxiety about the increase in crime, anti-social behaviour and growing use of illicit drugs.

The Minister said, “there’s always a sense of anxiety and always concerns regarding crime in any community and that’s why we’ve provided more gardaí” and resources.