Chief Superintendent Dominic Hayes
Chief Superintendent Dominic Hayes took to the stage in the evening. He spoke of how the gardaí in Kilkenny require community engagement to protect the elderly. He stressed the importance of the Text Alert schemes across the county, saying they are “an important initiative within any community, where everyone is looking out for each other.”
Hayes proved the success of Text Alert by sharing a story with the attendees of how the Text Alert in Bennettsbridge led to the arrest of two scamming roofers travelling Ireland, and saved an elderly Bennettsbridge woman over €1,000. The two men arrived at the woman’s house, looking for an extortionate amount of money to repair her roof. Thankfully, the woman’s daughter had been notified by her local Text Alert group that two travelling criminals were making the rounds in Kilkenny. This alert saved her mother a lot of trauma.
The Chief Superintendent also identified travelling criminals and phone scammers as the key threats to older people in Kilkenny. He encouraged people young and old across the county to contact Gardaí immediately if they see anything suspicious. “Never be worried that you’re putting us out or annoying us. It’s our job. We’re here to protect you” Hayes told the forum. He advised them to be especially proactive in the coming winter months, as treacherous weather conditions may leave older people at risk.
Hayes believes that Gardaí and community interaction has improved immensely over the past few years. He credits the high levels of community engagement for a reduction in crime in Kilkenny, which saw 800 less burglaries in the county this year than there had been just five years previous in 2013. “In our eyes, one burglary is one too many. One theft is one too many” the Garda said.
Hayes also encouraged the various senior forums to visit Kilkenny Garda Station. These guided visits are a regular service available in the station, which Hayes says can be very worthwhile. Seeing the various protections Gardaí have in place secures people in the knowledge that they are being “well covered”. “It gives people a kind of solace” Hayes advised.