Green Party Cllr, Mark Hackett

Frustration at lack of CCTV on canal greenway

The lack of CCTV on the Grand Canal in Tullamore is among the items to be raised at a meeting of Offaly Joint Policing Committee on Monday next.

The debate will take place against the backdrop of the victim impact statement made by Amy Murphy in the Central Criminal Court last month during the sentencing hearing of Jozef Puska for the murder of her sister, Ashling, on the Grand Canal almost two years ago.

Amy Murphy made reference in her statement to promises which were made by “those in power” in the aftermath of Ashling's murder that additional CCTV would be installed in local public spaces in Tullamore, including the Grand Canal greenway. “This was to ensure women could go safely about their daily lives. These were empty promises that never came to fruition,” she said.

Cllr Mark Hackett, who proposed the establishment of a sub-committee of Offaly JPC to consider the issue of safely for women in public spaces across Offaly in the wake of the horrific murder of Ashling Murphy, has also expressed his frustration this week at the lack of action on the recommendations which were put forward by the sub-committee, of which he was chair.

“The sub-committee made 13 recommendations arising from surveys that were carried out and in consultation with the various stakeholders and one of these related to CCTV, but the bottom line is that these recommendations have not been resourced,” said Cllr Hackett, who added that he “empathises with the frustration expressed by Amy Murphy in relation to the lack of CCTV”.

Despite the recommendations being agreed for implementation by both the JPC and Offaly County Council at separates sittings almost a year ago, Cllr Hackett says the rate of implementation has been “painfully slow” since then, which prompted him to request a meeting with the chair of the JPC and the new acting Director of Services with Offaly County Council in September.

“I met with Thomas Mawe, Director of Services in Finance, and we had a good open and frank discussion, but I believe the bottom line is that the implementation of these recommendations has not been resourced and no one person has been assigned to each task,” he said “and I can empathise with the frustrations expressed by Amy Murphy in her victim impact statement.”

Given that CCTV played a pivotal role in the conviction of Ashling Murphy’s killer, Cllr Hackett said it is “vital” to have it installed in all public spaces, including along the canal, and he has asked that this issue be debated at the next meeting of Offaly JPC, which takes place on Monday next at 11am in Aras an Chontae in Tullamore.

Cllr Hackett pointed out that the final report of the sub-committee on Safety in Public Spaces included “a very comprehensive report” which was compiled by Sgt. Graham Kavanagh, Crime Prevention Officer in the Laois/Offaly Garda Division, outlining the steps that need to be taken in order to make people of all genders feel safe in the public realm across Offaly.

“I share Amy Murphy’s frustration when she says the promises made were hollow, but I believe there still is an opportunity for those promises to have substance,” he said, “and I will certainly be doing everything in my power to ensure that we can implement all of the recommendations, including the installation of more CCTV across the county, and especially on the Grand Canal.”

Next Monday’s JPC is due to be given an update on the 13 recommendations arising from the JPC sub-committee on Safety in Public Spaces.