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‘Organised begging’ heavily criticised

ORGANISED begging is taking place on the streets of Ennis, it has been claimed, as Ennis Town Council was urged to make the county capital a “begging free zone”.

This week’s meeting of the local authority saw Councillor Paul O’Shea urge that Ennis Town Council work with the appropriate authorities, such as social welfare inspectors, to ascertain if those who beg on the streets are in receipt of social welfare payments.

He stated that the town council should “endeavour to make Ennis a begging free zone in 2014, so as to encourage tourism in our county town”.

He went on, “I don’t want to sound inhumane but there are certain people throughout the town who continue to beg. Tourist buses are coming in and they are being met by beggars and I have seen the same beggars who are in Ennis in Clonmel, County Tipperary. Is this organised begging? If it is, we need to do something about it.”

According to Councillor O’Shea, the Department of Social Welfare should be brought in to investigate those begging on the streets.

“If they are in receipt of social welfare, they shouldn’t be begging,” he said.
Councillor Johnny Flynn seconded the proposal, outlining that he has witnessed organised begging taking place in the county capital.

“They are travelling from town to town. These unfortunate women are begging in the cold, often with children and they rotate. A man in a Mercedes drops them off in the town and then replaces them with others in the afternoon. This is an abuse of women and children. A strong message needs to get out to people not to support this.”

Charity collectors who use “aggressive” methods were also criticised by the councillor. Councillor Mary Howard recalled, “In the summer, when there were a lot of events on, it was quite obvious that people were coming to Ennis particularly to beg. I believe we should have zero tolerance. These women are being trafficked.”

She also stated that she has received complaints from local people about charity collectors, while Councillor Michael Guilfoyle commented that the position of charity collectors outside Dunnes Stores is unsafe as people often have to step into the road to avoid them.

Responding to the motion, Leonard Cleary, town clerk, stated, “This matter was recently discussed at the Joint Policing Committee meeting on December 16, 2013. Ennis Town Council will work with the gardaí and other agencies in relation to this matter.

“In addition, the JPC discussed the importance of balancing support for local charities with national charity collections visiting Ennis. Again, the council will liase with the relevant agencies.”

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