A number of people with businesses on Eyre Street, Newbridge have voiced their frustrations over the presence of alleged antisocial behaviour on the street.
The Leinster Leader sat down with a group of business owners, some of whom opted to remain anonymous, to discuss their issues.
Tadhg O’ Riordan of Flanagan’s pub told the Leader that he believes the street’s name has been tainted by antisocial behaviour, and claims it stems from the town’s Peter McVerry House branch, which is also on Eyre Street.
"Trouble on the street has exploded since it first went in in 2014," he alleged: "so many people have told me that they wouldn’t go down Eyre Street."
He claimed that before the premises switched over from the Michael Garry House in 2014, there were no notable issues on the street — "I didn’t even know the Michael Gary House was down there until after the change of use came in," he added.
'I HAVE SEEN ANY NUMBER OF FIGHTS BREAK OUT'
Mr O’ Riordan also pointed to a recent double stabbing that occurred as an example of the antisocial behaviour, saying: "I have seen any number of fights break out (on the street), usually due to drugs or money owed for drugs."
In addition, he said that he has been told by other residents at the Peter McVerry branch that it is 'an awful place' to live in, citing incidents of antisocial behaviour.
While he said that local councillors such as Fianna Fáil’s Noel Heavey and the Social Democrats’ Chris Pender have an interest in Eyre Street, he added that no official representative from Kildare County Council (KCC) has taken the time to speak to any of the local businesses.
"KCC said back in July that they would speak to us, but nothing has happened yet," he said.
Another business owner, who is named 'Patricia' for the purpose of this article, said that they have tried contacting those in charge of the Newbridge branch, but could not get a hold of the management.
Both 'Patricia' and Mr O’ Riordan said that they have had customers express their concerns about Eyre Street to them as well.
Resident Paul Corrigan also told the Leader that Michael Gary House had a 'dry' (no alcohol or drugs) policy, and was strictly male members only.
One business owner who was particularly frustrated with the situation was a man that will be named 'Ben' for the purpose of this article.
'Ben' echoed Mr O’ Riordan’s sentiments about Michael Gary House, saying: "When it was open down there, there was never any trouble."
He added: "I know of children who are scared to go down the street, and one couple who are planning to move out because of all the antisocial behaviour."
Explaining what exactly he has witnessed, 'Ben' claimed that he has seen fights, drug deals and drug usage out in the open, and solicitation of prostitutes.
Like 'Patricia' and Mr O’ Riordan, some customers have voiced concerns to him about the alleged state of the street, while 'Patricia' also said that she has felt intimidated to turn down some customers, for fear that they may become violent.
All those in attendance at the meeting agreed that they had nothing against the Peter McVerry Trust organisation, and did not wish to dehumanise anyone suffering from drug addiction, but insisted that their businesses have been suffering ever since the branch opened in 2014.
The attendees said that a place like the Peter McVerry Trust hostel should be located on the outskirts of the town, such as the Jigginstown Manor in Naas, which helps those who are homeless and/or suffer from addiction issues.
They also expressed their wish for the Peter McVerry branch of Newbridge to introduce a 'dry' policy.
There has been some praise, however: the business owners commended the recent work of gardaí on the street.
Mr Corrigan added: "The last three to four weeks, there have been guards on the beat, and we would like to see that being kept up; gardaí on the beat have a bigger presence than a squad car just passing through the street."
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