Former Governor Of Mountjoy Calls For Solutions To Rise In Assaults And Misbehaviour

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The former Governor of Mountjoy Prison says that the time has come to say “No” to the trend towards a breakdown in respect in wider society.

The comments come following recent assault incidents involving young people especially boys.

John Lonergan is now retired from the Prison Service but maintains a deep interest in social issues says there is a trend where young boys engage in random violent attacks and seem to get enjoyment from the activity and that there are currently no consequences to act as a deterrent for this behaviour as the assailants are treated as children in the Justice system. The incidents are not ones of robbery or cases of a dispute with a person.

Mr Lonergan says in the short term the only response is to recruit more Gardaí and to have a greater visibility of Gardaí in the community. The State also needs to set a standard that there is no excuse for violence against another person – the Bansha man cited the strong message that the State’s policy sends as regards sexual assaults or domestic violence as a model.

A multi agency approach should include the Garda, TUSLA and the Justice System.  Mr Lonergan says detention is only an option for older offenders but that some form of consequence has to be established to deter such violent behaviour. The fact that some children may come from homes where parents are not coping adds to the difficulty and Mr Lonergan notes that some children are not engaging with school, sports or other activities in their locality becoming isolated and in some cases see a future career for themselves in the drugs industry as a viable option.

As to the causes of the behaviour Mr Lonergan says this is multi-faceted – the home environment, social media, exposure to violence in video games/movies, no obligation to take on duties in the home with everything being provided and in many cases not learning values of respect for others at an early age. This is compounded by the sense that there are no limits and no consequences for bad behaviour especially by juveniles.