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Waterford politicians issue warning against vigilantism after Roma mob

The public representatives feel the city’s reputation has been tarnished.

Roma people on International Roma and Traveller Day last year.
Roma people on International Roma and Traveller Day last year.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

POLITICIANS AND GARDAÍ in Waterford have joined together to argue that the city does not have a “widespread problem of street crime” following recent protests.

More than 200 people gathered in the city last weekend to calling for a Roma family to leave their home. An anti-racism protest was then held in the city on Wednesday.

It led to the intervention of Equality Minister Aodhan Ó Ríordáin who called the initial demonstration “a lynch mob”.

But nine local politicians and garda chief superintendent Pat Murphy have today released a joint statement which seeks to put to bed some of the misconceptions about the city they feel have been propagated in the last week.

They claim that that the city is “safe and welcoming” with a low crime rate.

“Waterford does not have a particularly widespread problem of street crime and anti-social behaviour as some commentary around the recent night-time assemblies has suggested,” the statement reads.

They claim that crimes against the person are down by 18% in the past year with a 75% detection rate for violent crime.

Last week’s assembled mob claimed that the family targeted was involved in crime in the locality but public representatives say that vigilantism cannot be excused:

There can be no tolerance for people who take the law into their own hands or target any particular group who they allege are involved in wrongdoing. Aside from the risk of harm being done and crimes being committed, there is also a real danger of prejudicing future prosecutions.

Furthermore the group say that “Waterford’s national reputation has been damaged by recent events”, noting that the city is attempting to sustain an economic recovery.

The signatories to the communique are, Cllr James Tobin, Cllr Lola O’Sullivan, Paudie Coffey TD, Ciara Conway TD, Senator David Cullinane, Senator Maurice Cummins, John Deasy TD, John Halligan TD  and garda chief superintendent Pat Murphy.

Read: Gardaí called to public order incident in Waterford >

Read: Intimidation of Roma people in Waterford “effectively a lynch mob”- Minister >

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Rónán Duffy

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