Antisocial woes

I just happened onto the ASBO debate on the Late Late on Friday night, and couldn't help but smile at the 2 folks who were trying to argue against the proposals. Somebody very rightfully pointed out that John Waters won't be experiencing the kind of antisocial behaviour in Dalkey that folks in ordinary areas have to endure. The young lady speaking with him came across as well-intentioned, but incredibly naive and quite oblivious to the reality of living with antisocial behaviour. The young man ffrom Belfast who had received an ASBO was portrayed as an innocent and I felt a real sense that we were not getting the full story about his case.

I have to admit that I have lived around antisocial behavious (sometimes extreme) for a lot of my life and I think this young lady needs to experience the torment of living with an extreme annoyance (and sometimes downright harassment) for a week or two before making judgements about the effectiveness of various remedies. She kept saying that we have effecient processes in place to sort out antisocial behaviour, when it is clearly obvious that these measures are making no impact whatsoever.

One example of antisocial behaviour I experienced was a middle aged man who lived downstairs for me in one flat I lived in. Looking back there were measures I had taken at the time which saved the event from becoming very ugly and dangerous for me. I was living in a top floor flat in Cork city on my own, when a neighbour downstairs threw not only a loud party, but decided to kick in the two doors (well kicked them to bits actually) of his flat, and two of his "guests" came right up to the top floor and tried to open the door to my flat. As it so happened I had an old friend from Dublin staying, had locked the front door (occasionally I wouldn't have locked it immediately after coming home so I was fortunate) and was on the other side with a plank of wood with a nail going through it. Had I been on my own I would have been terrified and only god knows what the intention was, of the two men who were trying to invade my flat. The neighbour was evicted within 24 hours, which I am sorry to say was necessary for the safety of other tenants (albeit technically an illegal eviction). And the landlord put in a high security fire door for me.

Another case was a tenant upstairs in a flat I lived in on Dunville Avenue in Ranelagh where the couple upstairs proceeded to loud and violent arguements on a weekly basis, including major domestic violence. It got so bad one night that 5 different neighbours called the Gardai. (Who could do nothing). The landlord would do nothing about this problem.

Lastly, and probably the worst, was a tenant who lived downstairs from me in Windsor Road in Rathmines for about a year. This little tart threw extremely loud parties (and the occasional loud arguement) at least twice a week from 1am until anything from 6am to 10am the following day. Despite ringing the Gardai several times and numerous complaints to the landlord, nothing was done until her dole was cut off (apparently 5 interviews were arranged for her that she didn't show up to) and the landlord evicted her for non-payment of rent. The experience was like living over the POD. These days I'm always very careful to find out about other tenants in any place I live.

Back home in Swords, my parents have been on the receiving end of antisocial behaviour which in many cases was blatant harassment from a series of young people in the area. There is a green area where underage drinkers congregate at night. The stupid and ignorant parents of these teenagers systematically ignore complaints and try to undermine the credibility of those who plain, to the extent of one Italian slapper whose bastard offspring was stealing my folk's bins and burning them out on the green threatening to spread rumours to the effect that my father was abusing his youngest daughter! Again, numerous complaints to the police in this case of obvious and very serious harassment (arguably by both mother and son - and I apologise for use of the B-word, but no term of abuse is low enough for this whore) ended in nothing. An ABSO would be particularly useful in this case if the young man was banned from being in the green area at all times (or from the estate altogether to be honest).

Devious parents often work hard to undermine neighbour watch committees and local groups to ensure that their own out-of-control offspring don't get punished for their behaviour. This makes it impossible to stop the cycle. However ASBOs don't need the body of evidence of a court, and are not a criminal record, so they may be a useful tool. Blair's latest notion, using US-style "uniforms" for "visibile community service" may also serve to highlight and shame those who abuse others right to a peaceful life. It is only fair on those who have put up with so much over the years, to find any possible way of discouraging and if necessary, punishing the ignorant little thugs who make other peoples lives less comfortable.

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