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Government neglect of socially disadvantaged children must cease immediately – Ó Snodaigh

19 March, 2008


Responding to research which shows that the vast majority of children appearing in court are from disadvantaged areas Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said, "You can be sure that the post-codes from which a disproportionately high majority of young offenders are drawn are the very same post-codes from which recruitment to the Gardaí is disproportionately low."

Speaking today after the publication of research showing that children from disadvantaged areas are thirty times more likely to end up in court Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"This research is further evidence of what has been apparent for some time and it should come as no surprise to the Government. My party, along with many others, have been highlighting this reality for a long time. However, there has been little or no response from the Government.

"Funding of intervention programmes such as the Garda Diversion Project and other measures which focus on the preventative side of tackling childhood criminality must be prioritised by the Government. An unwarranted proportion of funding is spent on dealing with the effects of childhood criminality rather than on measures to prevent it.

"Garda Diversion Projects should be in place in every local authority housing estate in the state. We also need to see more community Gardaí. The post of community Garda must be made more attractive to Gardaí in order to ensure that the right Gardaí are chosen for the job.

"You can be sure that the post-codes from which a disproportionately high majority of young offenders are drawn are the very same post-codes from which recruitment to the Gardaí is disproportionately low. This years Garda Policing Plan rightly emphasises the need to make the force more representative of the community it serves. However, while measures are being advanced to attract foreign nationals and new Irish into the Gardaí no measures have been adopted to address the very obvious shortage of members from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. Active steps must be taken to attract and recruit people from deprived areas into An Garda Síochána. This would help to improve community relations with the Gardaí.

"Youth drinking culture must also be addressed. The council, in conjunction with the local community, must have the power to limit the number of off licenses in an area. And there needs to be strict punitive measures put in place to deal with those who sell alcohol to minors be it directly or indirectly.

"The fact is that even though the Government have known that children from disadvantaged areas are more likely to get involved in criminal behaviour they have done very little about it. The children at risk are easily identifiable and there are measures that can be taken to encourage them to take a different path. This needs to be prioritised as a matter of urgency.

"Government neglect of socially disadvantaged children must cease immediately." ENDS

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