Waterford Fine Gael Senator John Cummins welcomed Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to Waterford for a day long visit to the city and county on Friday last (13th May). Minister McEntee met with court service staff at the refurbished €26 million Waterford courthouse, Gardai and management at the Waterford Garda Divisional Headquarters, staff and service users at Oasis House women’s refuge, community safety partnership and Treo Portlairge participants; before concluding the day with a community stakeholder event on the topic of Stronger Safer Communities in Dungarvan.
Senator Cummins said “It was fantastic to have Minister McEntee visit Waterford on Friday. Visits like this are invaluable in being able to demonstrate the need for additional resourcing and investment. It makes it easier for me to present a stronger case when decisions are being made on funding. There is simply no substitute for a Minister engaging on the ground with communities.
Court House & Garda Station
Minister McEntee visited the extended and refurbished Waterford courthouse which opened in 2018 at a cost of approximately €26 million. She toured the building, met with staff and management and saw first-hand the technological advancements which have been made to streamline court sittings. Minister McEntee and Senator Cummins then made a visit to the Garda Divisional headquarters at Ballybricken. Senior Gardai briefed the minister on crime statistics, the rollout of the new operational model and the additional infrastructure required to facilitate the expansion of the various teams including the regional control room which will deal with all 999 calls for the 10 counties in the Eastern Region. Senator Cummins said “Securing funding for a much-needed extension and improvement works to the Waterford Divisional HQ is a matter I have been consistently bringing to the attention of Minister McEntee over the past year and I am hopeful that it will be included on the capital plan which will be announced shortly”.
The busy itinerary then saw the pair visit Oasis House Women’s Refuge. Senator Cummins said “It was great to bring the Minister to meet staff and clients at Oasis House women’s refuge who are doing exceptional work in supporting the victims of domestic violence. Minister McEntee has been exceptionally strong on the topic of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. I know she will be publishing a new strategy shortly to support victims, strengthen our laws and bring about the change in attitudes needed to deal with this awful violence and abuse. I know the minister is committed to implementing best practice nationally as evidenced at Oasis House.
Community Safety Partnership
Minister McEntee met with Deputy Mayor Cllr. Seanie Power and members of the new Community Safety Partnership at City Hall. Speaking at the event Minister McEntee said “Community Safety Partnerships are a new approach to building stronger, safer communities. They bring the community together with state agencies and other organisations to discuss and draw up plans on how they can make their own communities safer – because they are best placed to know what their own communities need. We want to build on the fantastic work which Joint Policing Committees have done over many years”.
Minister McEntee joined District Court Judge Kevin Staunton at Treo Portlairge and presented certificates to youths who have completed courses recently. Treo is a community-based organisation that aims to facilitate fresh starts for young adults aged 16+ who have lost their way in life or started down a wrong path. Speaking at the launch of their new car maintenance and dangerous driving courses in December Judge Staunton said “Treo gives young people with difficulties a voice, while dealing with their issues in a very practical and common-sense way. Young people who come before the courts don’t come because they are bad people, they generally come because life has dealt them a bad hand.”
Stronger Safer Communities
The ministerial visit concluded in Dungarvan with a community, voluntary and residents’ roundtable meeting on the topic of Stronger, Safer Communities. Senator Cummins said “I wanted to host an event which would allow groups the opportunity to raise issues which they are experiencing on the ground with the minister. There were approximately twenty organisations represented and it was a very constructive meeting which Minister McEntee found exceptionally informative.