Monday, 7 September 2015

Commemorating 30 years of Community Alert in Carrigtwohill on the 9th of October 2015.

Muintir na Tire Community Alert makes such a valuable contribution to the safety and security of our neighbours throughout the country. It all started in Carrigtwohil and we in Muintir na Tire are going back to Carrigtwohil to commemorate it.

A Foul Murder in a quiet rural community.

On the 19th November 1984, two major bridges the Michael Collins and the Eamon De Valera were officially opened across the river Lee in Cork.
Those bridges were used that very first night, to gain access the rural countryside by a vicious gang
The gang drove from the city in a carefully selected stolen car to the townland of Ballycureen, Glounthaune, in the parish of Carrigtwohill Co Cork.
The three men in the gang were all masked, when they forced a side window of the bungalow where John Willis (77) and James Willis (75) lived since retirement almost ten years previously from their farming career.
One of the elderly men attempted to escape through the front door but was beaten back up the hallway before being tied up and both were dumped in the bathroom, while the gang ransacked the bungalow where they expected to find an appreciable amount of cash.
Gardaí did not rule out a theory that a gang member and associated friends may have called to the home previously, under the guise of traveling salesmen.
Failing to find what was not there, the gang resorted to the type of brutality that was a common feature of robberies of the period. Repeatedly, each brother in turn was beaten savagely until James died.
James Willis (75) died during the night of Monday 19th/ Tuesday 20th November 1984
The gang then made their escape stealing the brothers red Fiat car, which was abandoned in Ballyvolane an area they believed would throw the Garda investigation off their scent.
They then carefully returned their original car to the exact spot from where it was stolen, before laying low.  Meanwhile in Glounthaune John Willis had freed himself and painfully crossed the field to the home of a nephew. The local Dr Fergus O’Connell and Gardaí were immediately contacted who requested State Pathologist   Dr John Harbison to conduct an investigation and post-mortem.       Later on that day the Garda Technical Bureau removed the brothers Fiat car to Mayfield Garda station where a murder incident centre was opened.
Word of the atrocity spread rapidly across the parish of Carrigtwohill. A sense of outrage and anger burned within the people that such an appalling fate was dealt out to two highly respected members of the community. In the nearby parish of Dungourney a well-loved native Mick Walsh had also been murdered earlier in the year by a gang from Tallaght Co Dublin, who had traveled down to Co Cork to carry out a number of raids, and fled to England when the heat came on later.
Fear also coursed through the veins of the vulnerable and elderly, it could happen again.
and it did. In Co Roscommon a week later in what was almost a copycat attack, two elderly unmarried sisters were savagely beaten with an iron bar, one of them died.
The following night in Co Sligo, a relatively young 65 year old woman was attacked in her home by a gang. 

Anger and outrage inspires Muintir Na Tire to set up Community Alert

The upside of the growing anger was used positively, because anger can inspire us to change, to improve conditions; anger can inspire us to be better. The positivism was inspired and directed by the leaders of the community organisation Muintir Na Tire at the time. 
At a meeting of Imokilly Region Muintir na Tire, held in Dungourney on Fri 22nd November 1984 attended by eleven Community Councils, it was decided to initiate a series of open public meetings throughout East Cork, to discuss the tragedy and the concern about safety of the elderly especially in isolated areas.
After this meeting it was Muintir na Tire Imokilly Region Development Officer Mr Kevin Hickey who coined the term Community Alert.
The term was first used on the posters advertising the various meetings, and was accepted as the actual organisation name later.

A meeting was held in Carrigtwohill December 6th. 1984  where an enormous crowd, estimated at over 300 packed into the Community Hall. They listened to speakers, such as Muintir na Tire National Secretary Sean Hegarty, Chief Superintendent Tom O’Reilly who had come down from the Gárda Community Relations section based in Dublin. Local T.D Michael Ahern spoke, he was a member of Carrigtwohill Community Council at the time and he gave valuable support to develop Community Alert from day one. This meeting in Carrigtwohill was also significant due to the decision by RTE to record in Carrigtwohill the following morning a Nationwide program dealing with the robbery murder aftermath.

Much of the Community Alert ethos and ideas, which were coalescing over those two weeks hardened into a, to do list that night. It was a unique moment in time, and in the lives of those present that night - Community Alert was born.

For those idealists who volunteered to develop the concept of Community Alert it was the beginning of many years of effort.

If you wish to attend our commemoration in Carrigtwohil on Octobe 9th please contact us

Diarmuid Cronin.
Community Alert Development Office.
086 – 6000 752 email;

or you can contact us at 021 4500688 and book your place

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