There was the potent driving force of concern for the safety of children of the locality at the heart of a specially convened meeting at Scartaglin Heritage Centre in Scartaglin on Tuesday night.
Close on 200 people from the area converged on almost every available parking space in the village and all of the seats in the heritage centre.
Sense of Urgency
The meeting was convened by the fast acting, local GAA club with the backing of the East Kerry GAA Board which was represented by treasurer, Pat O’Brien.
There was a palpable sense of urgency and a need for action in the wake of the situation which has grabbed attention everywhere from the village outwards since last Saturday afternoon.
Then, a local boy was the subject of what Gardaí described as ‘an inappropriate approach’ by a man who stepped out of a black car in the car-park of the local GAA club grounds.
Dark Clothing and Hooded
He was dressed in dark clothing and hooded. He got close enough to the boy for him to see that his face was partially masked and only his eyes were visible.
Several contributors to the meeting praised the young lad for his presence of mind in being wary enough to put distance between himself and his chaser.
Run for his Life
The boy had to scramble over a wire fence surrounding the training pitch and down into a drain, out under an electric fence and run for his life through a boggy, rushy field to get to the road and eventual safety.
The notion of a community text alert system hardened up considerably when several people struck while the iron was hot.
Get Things Moving
Liam Young strongly urged action in language that left no doubt about his anxiety to get things moving – saying: ‘We must stand up for ourselves as a community.’
At the end of her contribution to the event the GAA club’s Child Welfare Officer, Moira Hughes said if the night’s meeting did no more that get the community alert scheme up and running it would be a great start.
Scheme in Place
Names, addresses and phone numbers of people willing to get the scheme up and in place were taken and there were 30 signatures within minutes.
Owen McSweeney agreed to take on the task after warning that the system had been proposed for the area before and had failed due to lack of local involvement and support.
There was also a feeling that it’s different this time around and there’s a determination that Saturday’s frightening episode will not be repeated for want of action on behalf of the clubs and community of the area.
Scartaglin GAA Club was thanked by many of the ‘open mic’ contributors for facilitating the meeting and for giving the people of the area the chance to show its solidarity and support for the family at the centre of the drama since the weekend.
Things Moving with Speed
And, true to the spirit of the meeting, things are moving with speed.
Now, the group tasked with the delivery of the system is awaiting a meeting with the Garda liaison officer for the area before taking the next step.
But they’re looking no further away than Easter before they have the news so demanded and desired by the close-knit community.
It’s a community which knows that it could have been discussing events of a far more serious nature but for the natural wariness and admirable actions of the boy at the centre on the events of Saturday afternoon.
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