Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Text Alert provided 'invaluable assistance' during snow

Deputy Martin Heydon FG, Gda Jon Brien, Ian Shiels, Sabina Reddy, Cllr Ivan Keatley, and Inspector Ollie Henry of Naas Garda.
Some 15 people who needed help during the recent extreme weather were attended by the local Irish Red Cross thanks to the Text Alert network in Kildare, writes Brian Byrne.

This was reported, via text from PJ Fagan of the local Red Cross, to last night's AGM of the Kilcullen Garda District Text Alert, held in O'Connells Bar. PJ said the TA system had provided 'invaluable assistance'.

Cllr Ivan Keatley, one of the monitors of the Kilcullen Text Alert phone, noted that the system had helped him put together a list of 18 people in the area prepared to provide 4x4 vehicle assistance if required in an emergency over the bad weather period.

"Fortunately, we didn't need to call on them, but it was good to know they were available," he said, adding that information gained through the system was also useful when he was communicating with the Council's Area Engineer about local road situations in the Athy MD.

The incumbent officers were re-elected for another year, with Sabina Reddy retaining the Chair, Ian Shiel as Secretary, and Maurice O'Mahoney as Treasurer.

Following the Treasurer's report, which showed a balance in the organisation's bank account of €1,827, the meeting agreed that existing subscribers to the system would not be asked to pay anything more for the current year. However, new subscribers will be required to pay a 'signing on' fee of €10.

The meeting was attended by Inspector Oliver Henry from Naas Garda Station and Gda Jon Brien from Kilcullen. They gave an overview of crime in the Kilcullen area, which is down on last year, and on the Community Policing IT Scheme which is expected to be formally extended to Kilcullen during the coming year.

There was a discussion on improving communication to members on how to use the Text Alert system, following a question on the matter from a Calverstown member. "There are a lot of people in my area who don't know," he said.

It was agreed that a leaflet would be prepared and distributed to members of the TA system on how best to use it, as well as spreading the information through local social and news media.

Inspector Henry said that if there was a crime in progress, call 999. "If it is a suspicious activity circumstance, call Kilcullen or Naas Garda stations. And if it is a local matter, such as reuniting a lost dog with its owner, call or text the TA mobile number." He added that people should not be concerned that contacting the Garda about suspicions was wasting their time. "We need to know, we want to know," he said.

The meeting agreed with a suggestion that presentations could be arranged about Text Alert with residents' associations when they were having their own meetings, both as a way of increasing membership and spreading knowledge of how the system can be used most effectively.

Also raised at the AGM was the possibility of implementing CCTV systems in Kilcullen and at motorway access junctions, to inhibit criminal activity.