COUNCILLORS from across the political divide have denounced an attack on a Fire Brigade which went to put out a bonfire on Halloween night in Cashel.
Cashel Town Cllr Martin Browne (SF), who lives in the Spafield Estate where the attack took place, told the Tipperary Star he deplored the “mindless vandalism” of the culprits. The Emergency Services were responding to a call regarding a bonfire in Spafield when rocks were thrown at the window by a number of youths. At least one person has been arrested in relation to the incident.
Cllr Browne said: “Some of the people who were attending the bonfire felt it was getting out of control because of mindless idiots who were throwing fireworks in the bonfire. Did they not realise how dangerous this act could be especially when young children were attending the fire?”
After entering the Estate to put out the fire the Fire service came under attack from a small number youths and young adults, who started to throw rocks at the engine and the windscreen was broken.
Gardaí also came under attack when they responded to the assault on the Fire Brigade. There were also reports that wheelie-bins and bags of coal were robbed from houses in the area, and damage was caused along a pedestrian walkway between Spafield Estate and the Old Road.
“While some of those involved were from the Estate it must be stated that a large crowd from all over town had attended the bonfire and some of these were also involved in the attack,” added Cllr Browne. “Do these people not realise how important the emergency services are, and by their actions there was an engine out of service for the remainder of the night? It was just luck that it was not required for the rest of that night.”
Cllr Browne said the residents of Spafield want to send out a strong message to people who take part in these kinds of activities: “You are not welcome in our Estate.” Cllr Browne called on anyone who has information about the attacks to contact either Cashel Garda Station (062 62866) or to meet with him confidentially.
The attacks were also deplored at this month’s meeting of South Tipp County Council. The Mayor of Clonmel Cllr Darren Ryan (Lab) called on the Government to introduce legislation to create powers of mandatory sentencing for people who cause violence or aggression towards members of the Emergency Services and frontline staff. Cllr Ryan said he was very disappointed that a similar motion in the Dáil was not backed by Fianna Fáil TDs. Some 800 Gardaí came under attack last year while on duty.
“This is 100% unacceptable. Gardaí, Firemen, Paramedics - when these individuals are assaulted or violence is done on them, this should warrant a mandatory sentence,” said Cllr Ryan. “We have seen attacks on Gardaí and Emergency Services across towns in South Tipp.”
He was backed by Cllr Richie Molloy, who pointed to the attack in Cashel, and an assault on a female Garda in Clonmel two years ago. “If the message went out, it would make people fearful of attacking the emergency services. Legislation is needed.”
Cllr Syvia Cooney Sheehan said Council staff were afraid to collect tyres from the bonfires as they are likely to be attacked by vandals. She knew of one incident where “13 to 14” people ganged up on staff, who had to contact Gardaí. “Ordinary members of the Council are now under attack.” Some kind of legislation could act as a deterrant. “We have to be seen to support people who are doing their civic duty,” added Cllr Cooney Sheehan.
Cllr Michael Murphy said mandatory fines should be included with mandatory sentencing.