Ardee Municipal District councillor John Sheridan says routine Garda patrols in Monasterboice could help curtail the spate of burglaries carried out at the cemetery there, a popular tourist destination.
Gardai are investigating after a car was broken into at the site on Monday afternoon. The incident happened in a very short period of time – between 1.30pm and 1.40pm.
The back passenger window was smashed and a backpack containing cash, a passport and a white Apple iPad device was taken. Anyone with information is asked to contact Drogheda Garda Station on 041 987 4200.
Speaking to LouthNow.ie today, Fianna Fáil councillor John Sheridan said that while funding is sought for a CCTV scheme for the area, increased patrols could act as a deterrent to criminals.
“Any crime requires Garda follow-up. Resources are ultimately the single biggest thing. I understand the current resourcing pressures on Gardai in Drogheda,” he said.
“The Gardai are putting out public appeals in relation to this, so they are investigating. There is only one route in and out of this graveyard in Monasterboice. The options for getaway are quite limited. Routine patrols could make a significant difference.”
The issue of break-ins at the attraction in Monasterboice has been raised numerous times before by public representatives and locals on the ground, including the local Tidy Towns group.
The issue has been brought to the attention of the Garda officers at Joint Policing Committee meetings, full council meetings and Municipal District meetings too, as well as to responding officers at the various instances of theft that has occurred at the sixth century graveyard.
Locals have called for help in tackling the problem, namely the installation of CCTV at the site. Funding for that is being sought, amidst disagreement over who – An Garda Siochana or Louth County Council – should act as the data controller of the captured images.
Asked about the process of acquiring a CCTV system at Monasterboice, Cllr Sheridan said; “It is a slow process. These things need to be funded. I do know local residents have met with Gardai about applications.
“The issue of data controller is a matter of central government. It is not for me to comment on,” Cllr Sheridan, who is currently Fianna Fáil’s Director of Elections in Louth, continued.
“The more incidents that keep happening, the more it effects the reputation of the area. It has a knock-on effect.” But Cllr Sheridan said he would continue to work alongside residents until a solution could be found. “It is on the agenda.”
The issue was raised at both the Drogheda and Ardee public JPC meetings last November where it was stated there had been, at least, five break-ins to cars at Monasterboice cemetery in the prior three month period.
At the Ardee meeting, Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan, said visitors being robbed at a historical site was “absolutely disgusting.” He also told the meeting that CCTV would be of “significant assistance to us.”
“Monasterboice Cemetery needs a crime prevention strategy developed for it.” Supt Chief Mangan said Gardai were working under statutory restrictions regarding CCTV and data control. “We can’t have a live feed of information coming into our premises.”
He said he had appointed Inspector Declan Monaghan especially to help communities deal with any applications made regarding CCTV.
“At the moment, the county council has to act as the data controller. It would be take an amendment of the statutory instruments to allow Gardai to become a data controller.
The reputation of Louth is at stake. For tourism, it is very important.”