COMMUNITY confidence in policing is growing in Keady despite a recent spike in burglaries and anti-social behaviour.
That was the message from local politicians during a public meeting in the town’s Tommy Makem Centre last Thursday.
The meeting was held as a follow-up to a public meeting in Keady around six weeks ago during which a crowd of around 70 local people turned up to voice their concerns at the level of burglaries, anti-social behaviour and drug dealing in the town.
At that initial meeting Inspector Kieran Quinn vowed that he would divert significant resources to the town in an effort to stamp out the problems.
Last Thursday’s meeting was called so the PSNI could update politicians on their progress as well as give further assurances that local police chiefs will not take their eye off the town now things have settled down.
Attending the meeting were members of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership, representatives from Castleblayney An Garda Síochána, Inspector Kieran Quinn, Sergeant Gwyneth Buchanan and members of the neighbourhood policing teams. MLAs Cathal Boylan and Justin McNulty were also present as were councillors Darren McNally and Thomas O’Hanlon.
Inspector Quinn gave an overview of some of the recent issues in Keady such as break-ins at commercial premises, homes, schools and churches, anti-social behaviour in certain estates and reports of a brothel operating in the town centre. There had also been public concern over the style and tone of policing in Keady with complaints from some quarters that police were too preoccupied with tackling motoring offences rather than drug dealing.
He said the town had been targeted by cross-border criminals which is why An Garda Siochana had been invited to the meeting so ideas, best practise and information could be shared from both sides of the border. Inspector Quinn said police officers on both sides of the border have forged good working relationships and regularly meet to discuss certain issues.
Sergeant John Daly of Castleblayney An Garda Siochana said a lot of the problems being experienced in Keady were being mirrored in towns and villages south of the border.
“We increased our profile in Keady with extra beat patrols, cycle patrols and rural patrols as well as a number of drugs searches,” said Inspector Quinn. “As well as having more boots on the ground we increased our social media activity which also received quite a bit of engagement.
“A lot of money and effort has gone in to reducing crime in Keady and I know the town is a better place today then it was a few months ago.”
Sinn Fein MLA Cathal Boylan shared Inspector Quinn’s assessment that Keady is in a better place now than it was back in the summer.
“Things have certainly settled down in the town,” said Mr Boylan.
“However unless this is a partnership approach we will get nowhere with our efforts. I can assure Inspector Quinn that he will get the support of ther community.”
SDLP councillor Thomas O’Hanlon agreed that things have improved in the town but reminded police that drugs are still an issue in Keady.”