Askamore Text Alert – in The Irish Times today

Big rise in Community Alert schemes

ALISON HEALY

THERE HAS been a 20 per cent increase in the number of Community Alert schemes set up around the State, following a rise in rural crime.

Muintir na Tíre, which runs Community Alert, said it now had more than 1,400 schemes and had noted a “dramatic increase” in calls from people seeking information about setting up schemes and keeping their homes and farms safe.

The scheme involves people reporting suspicious activities, liaising with local gardaí and looking out for their neighbours.

Its national co-ordinator, Liam Kelly, said 40 new groups were set up last year and 34 others were reactivated.

“We’ve about 12 new groups already this year and a huge amount of calls,” he said.

Garda figures show that burglaries rose 8 per cent nationally last year but the increase was as high as 40 per cent in some areas.

Recent aggravated burglaries of older people’s homes in places such as Pallasgreen in Limerick and Williamstown in Galway caused a great sense of insecurity, particularly among older people, Mr Kelly said.

Last month in Pallasgreen a farmhouse was robbed and its inhabitants, two sisters and a brother, were tied up with cable for almost three hours.

Earlier this month, two elderly brothers were tied up and robbed in their secluded farmhouse in Williamstown.

“An incident locally can create huge fear,” Mr Kelly said. “Garda stations are closing and people are very concerned about that. They want to know that there’s someone they can turn to in the absence of local gardaí.”

The increase in the theft of scrap metal has led the Irish Farmers’ Association to call for the introduction of a “track and trace” scheme, which would compel all scrap metal dealers to record the source of scrap metal received.

The farm group said the scheme should also include mandatory checks by local authorities and An Garda Síochána.

Its rural affairs chairman, Harold Kingston, said it was regularly getting reports of valuable machinery disappearing from farmyards and fields as part of work carried out by a sophisticated network of criminals.

Muintir na Tíre is now campaigning to get Garda approval for a national roll-out of a text-alert scheme, after successful pilot schemes in places such as Kerry, Tipperary and Wexford.

One such scheme is running in Askamore, Co Wexford. The community has erected signs that read: “Beware, community texting in operation. You’re welcome if you should be here. We text 300 people and gardaí if you shouldn’t.”

People are asked to call the scheme if they see anything suspicious, and the volunteer manning the phone then decides if it merits a group text being sent.

Mr Kelly said there were dozens of text-alert schemes around the country but all were run in different ways, and a national scheme for such operations would be preferable.

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Muintir na Tíre AGM

Nest Thursday, May 31st, sees Muintir na Tíre host its AGM in Murroe, Co. Limerick. Askamore Community Council and Askamore Community Alert are both under the auspices of this national body, and it is hoped that a number of people locally will travel for this AGM.

There is a very good line-up of speakers and topics:

Repossession of Family Homes by Ross Maguire of New Beginning

Suicide on the increase: Dan Neville TD

Rural Homes under seige from increased burglaries: Asst. Garda Commissioner

Funding for Rural Communities: Carmel Fox

John Lonergan will give the keynote address.

If you would like to attend the AGM, there is a bus being organised which will leave locally next Thursday for Limerick at approx. noon. Cost €10, refreshments will be provided at AGM.

If you would like to travel please give your name to Lorraine on 086 418 3357  as soon as possible, but before next Monday evening.

Askamore Community Texting

Askamore Community Council and Askamore Community Alert have worked together to set up and run this local initiative to try to cut down break-ins and thefts locally.

Over 270 people have signed up their mobile phones, and once a report of suspicious activity locally is verified, each of those 270 people receive a text alerting them to the activity / car etc. A number of Guards in Bunclody and Gorey stations also receive the texts.

This scheme has proved successful in the Rathnure / White Mountain area, and other areas outside Co. Wexford, and robberies have decreased wherever they are in place.

The newly-erected signs, placed at the entrance to the half-parish area, alert everyone, those welcome and those unwelcome, that they are entering an area where people are alert to what’s going on in the area.

Anyone who would like to join may do so by contacting Mary Kenny on 0861541948 or Mary Donohoe on 0861633341. The cost to join is €5.

The area covered is roughly the half parish of Askamore and the immediate surrounding areas.

Askamore Community Alert AGM

Askamore Community Alert AGM took place in the Activity Centre tonight with an attendance of approx 30 people. Mary Kenny, Ballyconran, outgoing chairperson, welcomed everyone before giving a report on the year’s work. Mary Donohoe, Brideswell, outgoing Secretary, read the previous AGM minutes and gave information on grants available to all over 65s living alone or with others of the same age. She encouraged people to apply once eligible. Stacy Gilbert, Askamore, outgoing treasurer, reported on the relatively healthy state of the organisation’s finances.

Mary Kenny then launched the “Bottle in the Fridge” campaign, telling the audience that every household locally will get this bottle from the Community Alert before Christmas, and again she encouraged people to use it. Read details of this project here.

The outgoing officers stepped down for the election to take place, but each were re-elected unopposed.

Askamore Community Alert “Bottle in the Fridge” Campaign

Askamore Muintir na Tíre Community Alert host their AGM next Tuesday night, November 29th at 8pm in the Activity Centre, Askamore.

On this night they will also be launching their new campaign – the bottle in the fridge.

The ‘Bottle in the Fridge’ is an initiative whereby people store their medical information in a specially marked bottle in their fridge in case of emergency and is particularly targeted at older/vulnerable householders and those with a medical condition who live on their own.

The bottle contains a basic medical information form which the holder has completed, along with green and white Emergency Services Stickers which are unique to the scheme.

Forms are completed, sealed in the special bottle and placed in the fridge (as fridges are commonplace in the majority of homes and provide good insulation in the event of a fire.) One of the Emergency Service Stickers is placed inside your front door where it is easily visible and this indicates to the emergency services the presence of emergency medical Information for the home owner.

Askamore Community Alert has decided to give one of these bottles to every home in the half parish of Askamore, with the hope that they will be put to use in all homes before Christmas.