Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.06 23 Apr 2021


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A parenting group has suggested fining families for children involved in anti-social behaviour would target the poorest.

Limerick Councillor Liam Galvin has suggested a €50 fine could be docked from parents' salaries or social welfare payments to deal with unruly children.

He earlier told Newstalk Breakfast: "When a parent has child or children, the least they can do is supervise and rare them.

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"There are children as young as five years of age going around the towns in large groups - groups of seven, eight, up to 15 - and they're causing mayhem.

"The elderly people are in terror to go to the financial institutions, the Banklinks, for example.

"The elderly people are afraid within the town boundaries to get a bit of daily exercise.

"If the child is 12 years or under, there is no legislation at the moment to do anything with that child.

"That child is dropped home by the Gardaí - and could be dropped home two or three times in any given evening - and there's no law, nothing for that child".

Louise Bayliss is a spokesperson for Single Parents Acting for the Rights of Kids (SPARK).

She told Lunchtime Live this is not a fair way forward.

"One of the things that we would have seen over the last 15 years.... was the dismantling of the community development groups that did so much work to curb anti-social behaviour.

"And instead of putting money back into those supports, and of creating a community where people can be involved, they're thinking of fining parents.

"One of the things I would also say is that one of the major changes that were brought in by the previous government was the changes to the One Parent Family Allowance - which meant that lone parents would have to go into full-time work when their youngest child reaches 14.

"One of the things that we keep saying: who supervises a 14-year-old when they're off for three months in the summer?

"These parents are being put into this choice of choosing poverty and living on social welfare, and supervising their children, or going to full-time work and not having that supervision.

"These are horrible choices - and instead of supporting the parents to actually care for their children... they're talking about fining children".

'Supporting, not punishing families'

She also suggested that "the poorest families" would be fined under any such system "pushing them even further into deprivation".

"Nobody wants to see children running wild, but it's supporting families not punishing them".

Responding to claims of older people afraid to use Banklinks, she said she understands people can feeling intimidated walking past a group of teenagers.

But she said there is a system in place to deal with younger people.

"There are JLOs - Juvenile Liaison Officers - and they engage with families, and that's the correct approach.

"The punishment of the family isn't it.

"If a child is doing something, you need to go back to the family and the root cause of what's causing that.

"There's other ways to go than punitive financial ways.

"We know the families that are suffering depravation are the ones who are going to suffer these fines."

Main image: Teenagers are seen on their way to school in Dublin. Picture by: Rollingnews.ie

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Anti-social Behaviour Fining Families Liam Galvin Limerick Councillor Louise Bayliss One Parent Family Allowance Spark

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