Amid national discussion of the anti-social violence against Gardaí in west Dublin housing estate Cherry Orchard, one father phoned into RTE’s Liveline to share his experience of living in the area.
When asked why he left the area, caller Andrew said it was because his house was petrol bombed because his son refused to do cocaine during the leaving cert.
Caller and local man Andrew, who now lives in Portlaoise, spoke of his experience of being in the area on Sunday at the time the shocking violence broke out. He was leaving his mother, who still lives in Cherry Orchard, home on Sunday evening after bringing her for cancer treatment at the hospital.
“It was just terrible for the Guards,” he said as he recalled the shocking scenes as two cars rammed a Gardaí car in broad daylight.
“As anyone familiar with Cherry Orchard will know, this was not a unique event. It just happened to be filmed by several budding Michael Moores,” Gript’s Dr Matt Treacy wrote in his piece on Tuesday, where he also highlighted family breakdown in the area.
Asked why he moved from the beleaguered estate which he lived in for 46 years, the Liveline caller said:
“I left because there were two petrol bombs thrown at my house, because my son wouldn’t do cocaine during the leaving [cert]”.
Joe Duffy appeared to be speechless on hearing the comments, and swiftly moved on. Duffy pointed to the resources in place, including good schools and youth groups in the area, after caller Andrew claimed kids were growing up having “basically nothing to do” in the estate, subsequently turning to terrorising locals.
When asked what should be done to tackle the anti-social behaviour, the caller said that a problem is presented because a lot of the youths causing trouble are from families involved with organised crime, so there “would be a lot of fear” of speaking out.
The caller laid the blame firmly with the parents of the youths terrorizing the area.
“The parents don’t give a damn what they’re doing out in the streets. They know what [their children are] doing,” he said. “These kids are growing up with parents who don’t give a s***t […] they don’t care”.
He also said the social issues plaguing the area have gone on for generations, and history is repeating itself for families in the estate.
He said there needed to be more of a Gardai presence in the area with more cars patrolling the area, even though Joe Duffy suggested this might cause more aggro by “egging them on”.
He said his own elderly mother had had her windows smashed, while he he’d had the windows of his car smashed, and his house egged.
Another caller, Brian, also a former resident of Cherry Orchard, also blasted the inaction of parents, citing this as a cause for the societal breakdown.
“Why aren’t parents responsible for what their [teenager] does?” he asked. When Joe Duffy pointed to resources introduced to the area in recent years, he said such resources were not of interest to the troubled youths.
“The likes of them aren’t interested in that. The equine centre has been there for years. They’re after putting in a new skateboarding park [but we continue to hear] the excuse ‘there’s nothing for them to do’. The likes of them aren’t interested in that, they only want to be out vandalising, smashing up places, intimidating people, and being general scumbags”.
Joe Duffy responded: “But what can be done about them Brian, they are citizens?”
Brian said that sentences for crimes should be increased to serve as a deterrent.
“Instead of giving them suspended sentences, and little half of what they should be getting sentences, give them the maximum possible for what they have been charged with,” he said.
Another caller, a woman and mother of three who had moved out of the area, also pointed to the problem of drugs in the community. When asked if she missed Cherry Orchard, she said:
“I’m glad I’ve left the area for what it’s become […] but I do miss the good people of Ballyfermot. But I don’t miss the robbed cars, or the drugs, or the fights outside the pub”, she said.
On the issue of schools in the area, all callers agreed that the local schools were “brilliant”, with dedicated teachers who put time and energy into providing extra-curricular activities for the students.
The area has long been plagued by organised crime. As recently as April, cocaine worth thousands was seized by Gardai in Cherry orchard, along with a gun. The suspected firearm was discovered along with €5,000 worth of cocaine following a search operation.
Back in 2017, an ‘indestructible’ CCTV camera was installed in Cherry Orchard, but became the subject of multiple targeted attacks from vandals working on behalf of a serious crime outfit in the area. Stolen cars were repeatedly rammed into the pole and substations controlling the CCTV camera’s power supply were also set on fire before the camera was finally put out of action. The camera was being used by gardai to monitor individuals they believed to be involved in the west Dublin cocaine trade.