GRAVEYARDS in two locations in the county have had Garda patrols stepped up in response to a spate of thefts that has been going on since the start of the year, Clare’s Garda chief has said.
Addressing last Monday’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Chief Superintendent Seán Colleran urged people to continue to report incidents and pledged that they would be fully investigated.
Since January of this year, there has been a hike in incidents of theft and anti-social behaviour at Drumcliffe Cemetery in Ennis. There has also been an ongoing issue at the graveyard in Tulla, with a spate of thefts of grave ornaments and flowers, over the last nine months.
The issue at Drumcliffe was raised by the Mayor of Clare, who voiced frustration with the perception that calls were not being logged. “Since January, I’ve been bringing this to the attention of the Gardaí and the local authority,” Councillor Mary Howard said. “I have found that some reports to Gardaí have not been logged and I’m asking that all of them would be. The situation at Drumcliffe is very concerning, and there is anti-social behaviour, theft and drug use going on.”
The Fine Gael members noted that she had been to the Ennis cemetery last week along with two Gardaí and four council members. “I was delighted to see that some of the trees were cut back, so at least there’s some visibility,” she said. “But, the gates were wide open. They cannot be locked if you’re 65 and have arthritis. People can just drive up and swipe whatever they want. The Gardaí and the council need to work together. We need a gate that opens with a fob and we need CCTV.”
Councillor Howard said it seemed that the council was more concerned about the fact that people were bringing benches into the graveyard. “There is no place else for those visiting the graves of their loved ones to sit,” she said, “and even those benches are being stolen.”
She added that there was now a sense of apathy about reporting incidents to Gardaí. “People are asking, ‘why bother reporting?’. I’m asking myself, why I am bothering?” she said. “One woman found that after she reported three incidents, none of these was logged. I want people to feel safe and secure visiting a graveyard where there is no loud music and no anti-social behaviour.”
Responding, Chief Superintendent Colleran said that thefts from graveyards at Ennis and Tulla had been “well publicised and discussed since the start of the year”. “We have had 18 thefts reported in Tulla,” he noted, “so do keep reporting.” He added that a range of measures had been deployed in response to the problem. “We have started additional patrols and additional targeted checkpoints are being looked at. A lot of crimes are difficult to detect, but there is no crime that we will not investigate. The last thing we want to hear is people saying, ‘why bother?’ People in Tulla are reporting.”
Councillor Howard said the issue needed to prioritised. “What may not be a very serious crime others is a very serious issue for those who are affected,” she said.