Friday, January 05, 2007

Anti-Social Behaviour

There was a feature about the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit of the Tallaght Garda Síochána on Morning Ireland this morning, just after the half-seven news and sports. The reporter followed two officers on their beat, going around talking to youths in Tallaght area. They came on two young people who were loitering in an alley behind a private home; the young people were asked, very nicely, to please move along, and we know that you’re not doing anything wrong but people might get the wrong impression and you know how it is and aren’t we all in this together, really?

An Spailpín, unfortunately, nodded off again at that stage, returning to consciousness later to hear what I can only guess was a social worker or community activist remarking that what the youth in Tallaght needed were “amenities” and “facilities,” and an end to alienation. Fair enough.

Your faithful narrator then arose, and went outside. Imagine An Spailpín’s surprise when I beheld that my motor car, the two cars in front of me on the street and one behind me, had all be keyed during the night. By which I mean some gouger – I personally suspect it was a gouger, but this is hateful prejudice on my part, of course – it may very well have been the manager of a Branch of the Allied Irish Banks, or perhaps a Sacred Heart Missionary, or a nuclear scientist, or anybody at all – that went along and scored the paintwork of my car and three others. It was a very through job, as the scoring goes right from the headlight to the back lights, taking sufficient care to ensure that the paintwork behind the door handles was not missed.

So I stood there, looking at this, trying to figure out how much it would cost me to get it fixed (I haven’t looked yet, but I would guess €500 at least, for four panels and a petrol cap), and I remembered what friend social worker had been saying earlier about amenities, facilities and alienation.

Am I understanding his philosophy correctly in positing that, given the choice between vandalising my car and four others or going to a local youth centre to play draughts or table tennis, or perhaps join Father Bob in a moving singalong of Kumbaya, the gouger/banker/missionary/scientist would chose the latter option? Be japers, but I bloody think not. I think by the time you have a buckaroo on the loose who thinks that keying random cars is good crack it’ll take more than the opening of a table tennis centre to wean him back to the primrose path. I think he’s already at a very difficult stage indeed.

And then a revelation opened up before your faithful corr, An Spailpín Fánach – I too was experiencing the very same feelings of alienation, rage and discombobulation that friend social worker was talking about on the radio in relation to the disenfranchised unequal masses in Tallaght! And then I started to wonder exactly how many Euro of my taxes were going to be squan-, whoops!, spent in dealing the alienation and anger of An Spailpín Fánach? Would it be enough to repair my car, for instance? To whom should I apply for the appropriate grant?

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