Young people in Omagh have been outraged by the decision of the owner of Serene Treat, a beauty salon, to fit a Mosquito to her premises. This device emits a high-frequency sound which is audible only to people in their early twenties and younger. It is being marketed as a way of dispersing crowds of young people by creating discomfort.
The owner, Kerry McCrory, claims that her business is being hurt because crowds around Café Extreme, next door to her business, which is popular with young people, are engaging in “anti-social behaviour”. In reality, genuinely anti-social behaviour is rare in the area. This device is totally indiscriminate and affects all young people within range, as well as potentially affecting people with some disabilities. McCrory says she will take the Mosquito down if Omagh District Council and the police put in place “more effective” measures, i.e. more draconian measures, to disperse young people. The Council has largely remained silent on the issue.
The device has also met with opposition from parents, who are angered by their children being labelled “trouble makers” simply for hanging out with their friends. Many also acknowledge that Café Extreme provides a space for young people to socialise, which is very rare in Omagh.
Indeed, anti-social behaviour which does exist in the town can be linked to the shocking lack of affordable sports and recreational facilities provided by the Council. Omagh has one of the highest levels of teenage alcoholism in Northern Ireland, which breeds anti-social behaviour.
The use of measures such as this Mosquito demonstrates the increasing criminalisation and marginalisation of young people in our society, the vast majority of whom do not participate in anti-social behaviour. Young people need to organise independently of the right-wing, sectarian parties, who have failed to meet our needs, and fight against reactionary attacks on our rights.