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Garda and community led group established to tackle ‘aggressive begging’ and anti social behaviour in Portlaoise

A group comprising of Gardai, community leaders and County Councillors has been established to tackle ‘aggressive begging’ and anti social behaviour in Portlaoise.

They were formed following this afternoon’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee which was held virtually.

Before Christmas, Sinn Fein Cllr Caroline Dwane-Stanley brought the issue of aggressive begging in Portlaoise to the fore.

The JPC only meets four times a year, and Chief Superintendent John Scanlan wished to establish a system where issues such as these could be dealt with as soon as they arise – rather than just at these meetings.

He explained: “This sub-committee will be joined by Inspector Joe Culliton.

“When we learned of the issue of aggressive begging, we responded vigorously and stamped out the problem in Lyster Square.

“But we cannot rest on our laurels – these issues can fester and return overnight so by establishing this sub-committee involving public representatives and local leaders, it will enable us to learn of and respond to problems far quicker.”

The development was roundly welcomed with Cllrs Aisling Moran and Paddy Bracken requesting that similar groups be established in the electoral areas of Borris-In-Ossory-Mountmellick and Graiguecullen-Portarlington.

It was agreed that this would be put on the agenda for the next meeting.

Speaking about the new Portlaoise group, Cllr Dwane-Stanley paid tribute to the work that had been done around Christmas.

She said: “I want to thank Chief Super Scanlan and all his team for how they responded to the issue of aggressive begging.

“A number of people approached me subsequently to thank us for ending what was going on.”

While Laois Cathaoirleach Catherine Fitzgerald also welcomed the formation of the new group.

She said: “I believe that this is a hugely positive move and it will help to keep Portlaoise safer for everyone.”

The names of those who would join Inspector Culliton on the group will be finalised in the coming days.

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.