As we were first moving in to this address on Donore Avenue, the first sight to greet us was of a young guy clambering over the eight feet wall of Teresa’s Gardens flats with a thirty-two inch flats screen television – which probably came without a receipt. Ever since that moment the housemate and I knew that this was going to be a colourful experience. It certainly has lived up to expectations, but – oddly enough – not in a bad way. On balance I like my neighbours, and they have only ever been welcoming and nice to us. Over the past couple of years on the street I have heard my landlord and a variety of personages representing Dublin City Council describe the nuisance of the anti-social behaviour, and not a few of my younger neighbours have been issued with Anti-Social Behaviour Orders from the Gardaí and the District Court. One of the more disgusting ASBO tales was of one little lad, whose father was in prison, being handed down an Order for the crime of keeping racing pigeons. Living here has taught me a great deal about the type of person who society brands anti-social, and the real meaning of public order. This is all about class control – nothing else.
We live in a country where police officers who arrest and rape prostitutes are fined and slapped on the wrist for a breach of conduct, and where children are labelled as hooligans for building a pigeon loft. It is only reasonable to assume that these youngsters enter into adulthood knowing who the pigs really are, and where they themselves sit on the social hierarchy. No one’s going to deny that there are real problems in this part of this city. There are. Sometimes people get shot. There are drug deals. People get hurt. Yet all of this is rare, and all of the perpetrators themselves went through the school of hard knocks where they were ceaselessly reminded of their place by the great and the good. The truth is that the causes of the much reported social ills and so-called anti-social behaviour are not to be found in the inner city. All that we get to see are the results and consequences of those causes. Every single day of my life I get to walk down my own street – where everyone knows my name – and see young folk with great talent and energy. Yes, they can get annoying – especially when they have water balloons – but they are not the problem.