FERMOY NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH CALLS FOR UNITED SHOW OF SUPPORT
Resident’s associations in Fermoy have been asked to send a representative to the upcoming AGM of the town’s Neighbourhood Watch. This week, Joe Tobin of Fermoy Neighbourhood Watch spoke to The Avondhu of the group’s achievements, concerns, history and future.
“We’ve been going now since the end of 2007,” Joe said.
“There probably was something like it before but it fell apart. It was started really by our local community Garda Andrew Geary. He held a meeting one night below in the Fermoy Youth Centre and a crowd of us came to talk about burglaries, robberies and security. We were set up into sub divisions on the night and these groups met to form a committee which liased with the Gardai,” he explained.
On reflection, Joe believes that the roll out of the Socially Monitored Personal Alarm System in the local area remains the greatest achievement of the Fermoy Neighbourhood Watch. The alarms are connected into the user’s phone line and to a power socket.
Designed to aid the elderly who feel unwell or unsafe, the alarm rings a fully manned listening station if the pendant or wrist button that is supplied to users is pressed.
Despite this success, Joe warns that government cut-backs could see Minister Eamon O Cuiv’s Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs cease their funding of the project through local development groups like The Avondhu/Blackwater Partnership.
“It is under threat, we just have to wait for the decision from the minister. He has asked groups involved in such schemes for new ideas on how to reform the current system, which is what we are working on at the moment. The deadline is at the end of the month and we’ll await his decision.”
Joe stresses that this period does not mean that Fermoy Neighbourhood Watch is not considering more people in need of alarms.
“We are still open to taking applications,” Joe said, and added that the upcoming annual general meeting of the group is important for the town. “We want more people from each estate, we assume that most areas have a residents association, and we would hope that each one would send at least one representative to the AGM. We want a lot more areas of Fermoy to get involved.”
The main message from the group is one of vigilance.
“Neighbours need to look around and keep alert to suspicious behaviour. If people see a car in suspicious circumstances, be it night or day, take the number and contact the Gardai. At the very least have it checked out, if nothing comes of it, what of it?” he asks.
With the current rise in unemployment, is Fermoy Neighbourhood Watch concerned that the conditions are prevalent for a rise in crime?
“I suppose it is a slight concern, but the last thing we would want to do is put scare-mongering articles in the paper that would frighten people, especially the elderly into going to ground. There is no need to be afraid if people help their neighbours, stay vigilant and assist the elderly. The elderly too need to reach out for that help, and use services that are available to them such as the Blackwater Connect, which can be a source of comfort and connection for people on their own.”
Ultimately, Joe says, the aim of Fermoy Neighbourhood Watch is to make the town a safer place for everyone and a better place to live.
“If every residential area sent just one representative to the meetings it could make a big difference. Our committee holds quarterly meetings with the local superintendent, and it is at these meetings we can put across people’s problems. If we don’t hear them though, we can’t pass them on.”
Between now and then the next project for the group is the erection of Neighbourhood Watch signs across the town, with Joe asking that any area that would like such a sign make their interest known.
“Our new mayor, Noel McCarthy, has given us his full backing and says we as a group are valuable to the town,” Joe replies when asked if the Town Council will back the erection of the signs. In conclusion, Joe once again reminds interested parties of the alarm scheme, but asks anyone with alarms that are not being used, or are in disrepair, to donate them to the group who will send the units to be fixed before deploying them to a worthy beneficiary.
The AGM of Fermoy Neighbourhood Watch will take place in the coming months, details to be announced.
Anyone with questions about Fermoy Neighbourhood Watch can get in touch with one of the local representatives: Joe Tobin 087-3234436, Mike Bennett 087-2364451, Patricia Dingivan 086-1678519, Clare Lonergan 087-9494415, Paul Hartnett 087-9587489, Noreen O’Hara 086-8939893, Ann Mansfield 086-2318165, Pat Bowes 087-2387715 or Garda Andrew Geary 086-8598412.
Thursday 20th August 7:20pm