Cllr Peter McVitty (FG)

Shining a light on anti-social behaviour at playgrounds

Lighting needs to be installed at a 20-year-old playground in Ballyconnell in order to deter anti-social behaviour there.

That's the view of Fine Gael councillor Peter McVitty who made the demand at the recent meeting of the Cavan Belturbet Municipal District Authority meeting.

He thanked Paul Mulligan and Derry Scanlon, engineers, for all the work carried out at the playground to date.

However, a disappointed Cllr McVitty criticised a certain “element” of people who damage the equipment and facilities and the playground.

“It is not out of control. It is only certain people who cause this harm. I am now asking that this playground is provided with lighting. It will bring attention to these people and those passing the facility will see any such harmful activity taking place,” articulated the Ballyconnell representative.

He also said that people are afraid to go into that park area at night and the dark evenings compound that problem. Cllr McVitty added that, at times, broken bottles are left to greet children who go there to play the next day.

Independent Cllr Brendan Fay supported the motion and also asked if there had been any progress in relation anti-social behaviour at other playgrounds across the county, particularly in regard to providing signage.

Mr Mulligan said he did not have any update as of yet.

Fianna Fáil's Sean Smith also supported the motion and said he too had representations about the issue at the Ballyconnell playground.

“Can we curtail the opening hours of playgrounds? Do we leave them open on a 24-hour basis? What is the regulation in regard to this or what should it be in regard to these undesirables who make their way into these type of places, where they can use and abuse?” asked Cllr Smith.

He said he would support any measures that would leave it secure and suggested that maybe this issue should be looked at in an overall context thoughout the county.

The Senior Executive Engineer, Paul Mulligan said the issues in Ballyconnell extend beyond the playground.

The very first evening the new seats were installed, some people had endeavoured to loosen the bolts.

He said he would have the relevant people in the council cost a scheme of lighting for the playground.

“I would agree with Cllr Sean Smith, that there is an issue in all the playgrounds across the county. It is a huge challenge,” said Mr Mulligan.

The director of services, Brendan Jennings, clarified that the Housing Section in the Council is responsible for maintaining the playgrounds and indicated that further funding is coming for upgrades to playgrounds later this year.

He pointed out that the damage to playgrounds varies across the county and “fencing them off or closing them off is not always the ideal solution. Passive surveillance is probably the best way – making them visible and lit up. That is costly. As we know lighting is not cheap,” said Mr Jennings.

“Playgrounds are an integral part of an urban community – the younger people and parents need them. It is important that we get them working as good as we can,” he added.