Shameful vandals destroying Ballylynch children’s playground

Aileen Hahesy

Aileen Hahesy

A playground for the children of a Carrick-on-Suir housing estate is under attack by vandals, who have burned, defaced and damaged its equipment, railings and soft surfacing.

The serious damaged caused to the Ballylynch estate playground has made it a health and safety hazard for the young children, who use the amenity, according to the Mayor of Carrick-on-Suir Cllr Richie O’Neill, who has condemned the “shameful” behaviour of those responsible.

The independent councillor, who is a resident of Mountain View, Ballylynch has appealed to the vandals to stop their campaign of destruction for the sake of the children of their community.

“I would plead with these people doing this to give the Town Council a chance to repair the damage and allow it keep the playground open,” he said.

Cllr O’Neill says the vandalism is being caused by a small group of teenagers, who have no regard for the people of their community.

“This playground belongs to the kids of the community. It’s one of the only amenities the kids have up here at the moment. In the evenings when the weather is good, it’s great to bring the childern out here to play. These people don’t think anything about this community at all. They have no pride in their area.”

The damage to the playground, located opposite the Killonery neighbourhood in Ballylynch, is extensive.

A large piece of climbing equipment with a slide for very young children, which Cllr O’Neill is standing beside in our photo, was set on fire last year. The charred frame is covered in graffiti; a plastic wall panel from it lies melted outside the playground railings while another panel still attached is partially melted and broken off.

Sections of the special soft protective floor surfacing around this piece of equipment has also been destroyed by fire. At the other end of the playground, a rope climbing frame for older children has been defaced with graffiti.

The top part of some of the railings around the playground have been bent and the remains of several fires where drinking parties have taken place are visible along the railings as well as along the stone wall that borders the site.

A section of this stone wall has been pulled down. Cllr O’Neill said the Town Council repaired the damage on three occasions only for the section of wall to be pulled town again. The Council has now filled the gap with three concrete slabs.

Most poignantly, a park bench in memory of Ballylynch’s deceased residents, erected just outside the playground by the young members of the local Foroige Citizenship Group was also burned.

Cllr O’Neill said members of the Foroige Group collected funds from the people of Ballylynch and replaced the damaged bench.

At Carrick-on-Suir Town Council’s February meeting, Cllr O’Neill tabled two motions calling on the Council to repair the wall and enquiring from the Town Engineer if the playground was going to be repaired.

The Council has allocated e5000 funding through its Block Grant Scheme to repair the wall. Town Clerk Michael O’Brien agreed at the February meeting to get a costing on how much would have to be spent to replace the damaged equipment and surfacing after Cllr O’Neill and Cllr Denis Landy stressed the importance of not giving into the vandals.

Cllr O’Neill says he is still waiting for the costing. He said it was vital that the playground was repaired as to leave it in the state it is currently in would just be aking to letting the vandals win. He fears that if the playground is left too long in disrepair the damage will only get worse and worse and he has concerns about the health and safety dangers the playground currently poses to children using the amenity.

“If we give up we are finished,” he declared.

Michael O’Brien said the Council does intend to refurbish the playground and the town’s Rapid Programme co-ordinator is preparing a costing for replacing the equipment and repairing the damage. Once the costing is established, the Council will seek funding for the project.

He said it was very disappointing that this amenity for the children of Ballylynch has been damaged and pointed out that the vandalism problem was raised by the Council with the Gardai at a Joint Policing Committee meeting.