Large crowds of local residents attended a protest rally on Bettystown beach this afternoon where Mornington woman Tania O’Neill spoke passionately about the need for an increased Garda presence in the area and argued for the re opening of Laytown Garda station as a matter of urgency.
O’Neill said that a recent census had put the population of the East Meath coastal area as around 22,000 and that it was not acceptable so many people should be left relying on cover from Ashbourne over 30 kilometers away.
Earlier a clearly upset O’Neill told Meath Live the distressing details of a vicious attack on her son that left him for dead that inspired her to take action.
Hundreds of local residents flooded Bettystown beach in County Meath yesterday to express their frustration that despite there being a Garda station two miles up the road in Laytown, Bettystown is actually serviced by Ashbourne station 33 kilometers away.
And incredibly calls to report a savage attack on two local youths earlier this week were re routed hundreds of miles to the Garda station in Kildare town, almost 100 kilometers from the scene, when the Ashbourne station was busy.
Tania O’Neill, who organised the rally, explained that the incident in which her son and one of his friends were brutally beaten last Thursday, forced her to act.
‘A gang of thugs took the train down from Drogheda and were drinking on the sand dunes along the beach all day, and that evening when my son and his pal went out for a walk they were badly beaten, they were kicked in the head when they were on the ground and came back covered in blood.
‘My son’s head is huge, swollen, and bruised as is his eye, face, and jaw, he can’t even eat. His friend is worse, he got a rock to the head and his face is unrecognisable.
‘Fully grown men would not help them, my son was screaming for help and one would help’.
Ironically given today’s demonstration was over the lack of Gardai in the area it was two off duty members of the force who came to the boy’s rescue.
Tania said, ‘A detective that we know who wasn’t working happened to be on the scene and grabbed somebody and another Guard who is a friend of the family copped what was happening and he helped out.
‘They were threatening anyone that helped with knives and when people there rang the guards they were diverted to Ashbourne miles away. Others rang and as Ashbourne was busy they got diverted to Kildare.
‘Ashbourne Garda station is 33km from Bettystown, Kildare Garda station is 98km from Bettystown.
‘They didn’t come for ages and by the time they arrived, they couldn’t arrest anyone. People had to barricade themselves around him and my son and his friend were brought into the back of a local supermarket and guarded because these animals were still after them.
‘That’s why I organised the protest and I am heartened by the support we got, I’m not stopping until Laytown station is opened again and fully staffed.’
One local claimed, ‘There are extra police in the area this weekend because of complaints about visitors parking and they will hand out fines, just like they did last weekend, but when you really need them they are not around at all.’