Police under pressure to attend public meeting on Coalisland drugs issues – but allegedly say: ‘We’re not ready’

The PSNI have come under further pressure from the Coalisland community to help address the town’s drugs issues after it was claimed officers said they were “not yet ready” to meet residents.

Church leaders in Coalisland are set to meet with the PSNI at the beginning of next week to discuss organising a date for a public meeting between officers and the community.

But residents criticised the police for failing to act as the town held its fourth public meeting to discuss drugs – again without any police representatives.

(Scroll down for a short video from the public meeting)

Speaking yesterday at the latest public meeting in the town, Church of Ireland minister Rev Andrew Rawding answered questions from residents over holding a meeting with the police.

Ógras Youth Centre’s Leo Quinn and Clonoe Boxing Club’s Frank Gervin discuss tackling the town’s drugs issues. Join our Facebook page for more photos from the Coalisland area

He said: “[The PSNI] sort of said they’re not yet ready to meet the community – we will say, ‘You need to meet the community.’

“Unfortunately at the moment the police don’t seem to be thinking creatively and laterally on this. They need a little bit of guidance on this themselves.”

Coalisland parish priest Fr Paul Byrne said the past few weeks of meetings, including a demonstration held in the town centre, have put pressure on the PSNI.

Photographers take some pictures before the meeting begins

He said: “They have been shown that they are not up to the mark – and they are embarrassed.”

The Coalisland community again gathered in strong numbers yesterday evening, this time at Brackaville Parish Hall, to discuss how the town should tackle its drugs issues.

About 50 residents huddled around several tables to focus on taking forward three key ideas – a drop-in centre, a parents’ support group and a community outreach plan – before having a larger group discussion.

Residents discussed ideas such as a drop-in centre, a parents’ support group and community outreach work

Rev Rawding said it was important for the community to lobby policing and justice rather than taking the law into their own hands.

He said: “The PSNI have got to do a more effective job. The question is how do we hold them to account?”

Fr Paul – who has been in contact with the police, including Dungannon Sector Commander Inspector Keith Jamieson in recent weeks – urged residents to contact the PSNI about any problems in the town.

About 50 people attended the meeting at Brackaville Parish Hall

He said: “In the last fortnight I have had more phonecalls from the police than I have had all my life really. They keep using the excuse that people are not making these phonecalls.

“Inspector Jamieson said, ‘If we got six phonecalls a week from Coalisland, we would begin to take notice.'”

Pub owners in the town also came under fire from residents, with one woman claiming to have witnessed alcohol being served to underage children.

“We saw three or four children outside a pub being handed out blue bags,” she said.

The group also discussed installing CCTV at trouble spots in the town. Dungannon councillor Pádraig Quinn said: “It simply comes down to practicality and who’s going to fund it and who’s going to maintain it. It’s a deterrent to some extent but does it match the cost?”

Families were also encouraged to attend a meeting on Friday 27 April between 7pm and 10pm at Coalisland Parochial Centre to showcase the clubs, groups and opportunities available to young people in the community.

Organisations Breakthru, Opportunity Youth, Lilac and the Niamh Louise Foundation will also be attending the event to provide information on health and well-being.

Fr Paul said developing a steering group would help the community gain more leverage for funding.

He said: “We can go along and say, ‘We are not going to stand and wait – we want it now.’

“You’re calling everybody to action – We’re sending out a message to everyone that we do need to do something.

“As a group we do have more power.”

Related stories:

>COMMENT: ‘Our drugs and alcohol problem in Coalisland is a parenting issue’

What do you think of Coalisland’s drug issues? Share your views by commenting below


5 Comments on “Police under pressure to attend public meeting on Coalisland drugs issues – but allegedly say: ‘We’re not ready’”

  1. Cllr Pádraig Quinn says:

    CCTV within the Coalisland area is a concept that many have
    mentioned over the last number of weeks, particularly at the public anti-drugs
    meeting organised by me and at the initial meeting of Coalisland cares. As an elected representative I of course feel it is extremely
    important to explore suggestions from the public. The issue is not a straight
    forward one as it is not a simple matter of installing a number of cameras on a
    once of basis, there is also many other issues around maintenance, who will be
    responsible for monitoring the footage and who will pay the cost involved in
    all of this. Once those details are clear, it will then be a question of are the
    PSNI using the footage wisely and in the appropriate manner? I believe that having
    effect well monitored CCTV in the Coalisland area is a very valid suggestion,
    one which I intend to investigate with the council, however until the full
    details are available, it is too early to say whether the cost to us, as rate
    payers, will outweigh the potential benefits.  I would encourage residents to keep in contact
    with myself for more details on this issue. my contact number is 07834592880.

  2. Coalisland Resident says:

    I was wondering if there will be a child protection policy for the drop in centre and the outreach programme or if the volunteers staffing these projects will have been POCVA cleared? I was also wondering about insurance cover in the event a child has an accident in any activity which is arranged by this project. 

    • Coalislandcares says:

      Yes.  All that is necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved will be put in place. 

  3. Celticnan says:

    if the psni would do their job the drug problem could be sorted, they could have the main people off the streets within weeks and the foot soldiers would soon dissapear, but its clear to see they dont want to sort out ths problem???

  4. Fed up with the whining says:

    Does anyone think that the young thugs involved in the antisocial behaviour give a damn about outreach program’s or drop in centres. I am sick hearing “but there I nothing for the young to do”. Rubbish how many children go through Craic theatre every week. Go up to any local football club any night of the week and there are kids training flat out. Go down to the boxing club and see how many kids are enjoying themselves.time to stand up to the thugs and hoods and their feckless parents who let 11/12/13 yr olds run riot at all hours.


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