Carrick-on-Suir’s mayor has rounded on the “disgraceful and disgusting” behaviour of “gurriers and thugs”, who have vandalised the town’s playground so much that rumours of its closure have been circulating.
Cllr Liam Walsh condemned the youths responsible for the damage to the Fairgreen playground at this month’s meeting of Carrick-on-Suir Town Council where he tabled a motion calling for the repair of all its damaged play equipment, the replacement of its broken security fencing and for the CCTV camera in the area to the focussed on the playground.
Town Council management responded that it was seeking cost quotes for the replacement and repair of all the playground’s equipment and added that works would be carried out once these quotes were received “subject to available resources”.
The Mayor told the meeting he had received reports of “disgraceful and disgusting” activities at the playground, located at Greenside a short distance from the town’s garda station.
He described how a gang of gurriers and thugs were hanging out at the playground at night. They were vandalising the playground with hurleys and now there were rumours that the Town Council was going to close it down.
“I can understand where the rumours are coming from. It this continues down the line, it’s a possibility but for now I would like the equipment to be repaired, new security fencing erected and that the CCTV camera be focussed on the playground.”
The Sinn Fein councillor said he had understood the CCTV camera at Greenside was to be focussed solely on the playground but he was informed that this wasn’t the case. This security camera was needed if they were going to tackle the vandalism, he argued.
The Mayor also called on members of the public to report anybody they saw in the playground after dark to the gardai.
“These people don’t give a tuppence. I am disgusted with the way it’s being treated,” he declared.
Cllr Walsh’s motion received unanimous support from the Council’s other elected members.
Fianna Fail Cllr Kieran Bourke told the council meeting that rumours about the playground’s closure were rife around the town and he had to assure constituents it wasn’t true.
He said councillors were informed the CCTV camera would be directed at the playground, and he wanted to know why film evidence wasn’t coming back showing who was causing the vandalism.
Cllr Bourke also pointed out that his party colleague, Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan, was told months ago by the Town Engineer that he was going to investigate different security fencing for the playground and would come back with costings. He demanded a report on this to be presented to the Council’s next meeting.
He said the activities taking place at the playground were criminal and the gardai should be tackling the problem. It wasn’t an issue that just stopped at the Town Council’s door.
Fine Gael Cllr Margaret Croke said the thugs causing the damage were from outside Carrick-on-Suir as well as from within the town. These thugs had threatened and hunted away children using the facility and on one occasion and adult was so angry at their behaviour he was “ready to strike back”, she revealed.
Independent Cllr Pierce O’Loughlin said the playground wasn’t the only target of vandals in the town and he blamed the parents of those responsible. They should speak to their children about their behaviour, he said.
Labour Cllr Sarah Dunne said she felt “sick to her stomach” at the things she had heard going on at the playground and she hoped those responsible would be brought to justice.
Responding to Cllr Walsh’s motion, Town Clerk Michael O’Brien said a comprehensive survey of the town’s playground was carried out in June and some repairs were made to equipment and fencing surrounding the Fairgreen playground.
“The Council is currently seeking quotes for the replacement and repair of all equipment and fencing. Once these quotes are received, the Council will carry out works subject to available resources,” he added.
The vandalism at the Fairgreen playground was first highlighted by The Nationalist back in August, 2010 when a concerned and angry parent, Martin Simmons, from Greenhill Village spoke out about the state of the playground after his daughter Ella got a nasty gash on her leg from bolts protruding from the base of a roundabout removed by the Council due to vandalism.
On the day photographer Ann Marie Magorrian photographed the playground on Sunday there were only two adults and two children there.
A lot of security fencing was missing, there was graffiti scrawled all over play equipment, wooden stakes dividing the toddler area from the older children’s play area had been uprooted and some of the rubber flooring was ripped up. Swings, a roundabout and spring play seats were missing.
Frances Cooney, who visited the playground with her little son Ben that day, said the playground was a wonderful place to bring children when it first opened and it was sad there was very little for them to play on now.
She was very concerned at the missing sections or the perimeter fence as children could run off in to the Fair Green or stray sliotars from those playing hurling on the green could fly into the playground.