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Councillor 'concerned by gang culture' after Portmarnock unrest

Large groups of youths were involved in the disorder on the beach yesterday evening with a number of arrests made.

Image: ViralFBVideos via YouTube

FINGAL’S POLICING COMMITTEE met this morning to discuss the disturbances around Portmarnock beach in Dublin yesterday evening which saw groups of youths shouting abuse and hurling bottles at each other.

At least three people have been arrested in connection with the public disorder and Fingal county councillor Kieran Dennison told TheJournal.ie that it was the “big item on the agenda” for the committee today.

“Obviously, this has happened before and gardaí were in place fairly quickly but with Facebook and social media the crowds swelled from 200 to over 1500 in the space of two hours,” he said. “Gardaí were stopping them in some places, taking drink off them getting off buses and trains and there was a lot of drinking and throwing bottles.”

Gangs

Dennison said that, having watched videos of the disorder on YouTube, he was “concerned” about images of “gangs of black youths fighting white youths”.

While the councillor conceded that there were also  images of white youths in conflict with each other, he said that it was “a bit more disturbing” to see groups of different cultures pitted against one another.

“It’s that element of it, I’d much prefer if guys were mixing it up but there seemed to be a number of separate squirmishes,” he said.

He said that the racial aspect of the disorder was not the “main subject of the meeting” this morning but it was “acknowledged” and he said that it is something the committee and the council will be looking into.

“From time to time I get reports about young lads forming into gangs and unfortunately, in come cases, they seem to be one particular nationality so I would have a concern about that,” he said. “I don’t think it’s useful to ignore it, we have to look to see what can be done about this.”

“I know how much there is in the UK and US and I’d be concerned about gang culture starting here as well,” he added.

CEO of the Integration Centre, Killian Forde, told TheJournal.ie that he did not think there was a racial element to what happened in Portmarnock.

“I live nearby and I’ve talked to people who were in the area,” he said. “It’s an annual event that happens on the beaches on the northside – it’s not new and it’s not racial.”

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However Forde said that the lack of integration of young immigrants is a major problem in some parts of the country.

We do have a problem in Fingal of gangs of youths but that’s a reflection of a number of different things, the lack of integration being one of them. A lot of the incidents we hear about involve areas where there are young populations of all nationalities and there’s a tension and competition that exists between these gangs. When racism becomes accentuated very quickly, people seek comfort and solidarity within their own ethnicity.

“I do think people and politicians need to be more careful not to talk up racism if it hasn’t happened but we’d welcome Kieren Dennison’s concern,” he added.

Cost

Dennison said the council is meeting today to discuss what to do about the incident. Gardaí took videos at the scene and he said there will be “follow-ups” now.

The installation of CCTV along the beach is being considered but the councillor said that this could cost up to half a million euro as a surveillance set-up in Dunsink Lane to deter dumping cost some €100,000.

In the immediate afternmath, he said that the cleanup costs will be “huge” due to the amount of broken glass and bottles along the beach and surrounding area.

Related: Three arrested after good weather brings trouble to Portmarnock beach>

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