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Councillor Ian Lynch. Photograph by John Kelly.

Councillor: new bill could allow gardai control CCTV

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THE introduction of a new bill aimed at discouraging use of single-use items could be exploited to help detect crime in Kilrush, according to a local councillor.

The Ministry for Justice, through An Garda Síochána, may be allowed to take charge of the CCTV infrastructure within Kilrush Town for the prevention and detection of crime, operating and maintaining the cameras to safeguard and protect the public.

This is possible due to the new Circular Economy Bill, which was published on March 30 and aims to discourage the use of single-use items to improve the process for allowing recycled materials onto the market – in fact, it defines the circular economy for the first time in Irish domestic law.

Councillor Ian Lynch stated his wish to use this bill as a foundation for the control of CCTV in Kilrush by the authorities, because of the various instances of dumping, fly tipping and excessive littering in the town.

At a meeting of the West Clare Municipal District he said: “This is a challenging task with regards GDPR. Kilrush Town Council has had CCTV infrastructure for a long time, and our cameras are placed perfectly around town to spot things happening but because of GDPR issues their footage can never be used.

“Though this change in control was never something the council intended to do, this is an opportunity and I hope we can see that.”

Councillor Lynch referred to other instances where GDPR has become an obstacle for the enforcement of justice; a grant was promised through the Ministry for Justice for local communities to the tune of €40,000, which was never spent because of data protection.

Councillor Joe Garrihy weighed in on the issue, referring to instances such as damage to high-quality facilities and anti-social behaviour that were photographed, and emphasised that were the footage to be handled by the Gardaí, it must be done so with delicate care and training to avoid kickback as to how the policy is being employed.

He continued that he fully supports the Gardaí using CCTV everywhere, but that situations in which a person is being blamed simply because they were spotted in footage must be considered at all times and dealt with accordingly.

He added: “There are a lot of issues with this change. As part of a working group for which Councillor Gabriel Keating is the chair, we discussed the opportunities for rural development surrounding the use of CCTV, especially the protection of our wonderful facilities. It is a very worthy idea, but it must be well-regulated and organised.”

Other municipal districts have emerged with the same conclusion – for instance, the Gardaí’s use of CCTV has been vocally supported at the Shannon MD meeting by Councillors Gerry Flynn and Pat O’Gorman.

About Conor Clohessy

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