Portlaoise town mayor Willie Aird has said that the castle in the playground at Portlaoise Leisure Centre may have to be dismantled if the huge problem of severe anti-social behaviour continues.
Cllr Aird said he had never before had to propose such an idea at a Portlaoise Town Council meeting, but what had been found in the castle recently meant the apparatus was not suitable for use by children. He asked Laois County Council to resolve the issue of anti-social behaviour there.
“It’s a beautiful place, the most used facility in town and open to everybody, but there are huge problems with that piece of apparatus and the severity of the anti-social behaviour. I’d urge caution to childminders to ensure you’re happy with the castle before letting children use it,” he said.
“If it continues I’ll be asking for portions of it to be dismantled. I’ve never had to put down such a motion before.”
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald agreed it was a fabulous facility, but she had been told a lot of people are going to Stradbally and other areas instead.
“People are very unhappy with what’s happening at (the castle),” she said.
Cllr Kathleen O’Brien said she too had received complaints of anti-social behaviour in the area.
“It’s a big castle and very easy to hide under it,” she said. “We may have to put in swings, it will probably have to come down.”
“It’s sad in a facility where so much money is being spent on it,” said Cllr Jerry Lodge.
A written reply to Cllr Aird’s motion was received from Ian McCormack, of the county council’s community and enterprise department.
Mr McCormack revealed that measures are currently being explored to resolve this issue and there has been a reduction in occurrences. The situation continues to be monitored and a range of options are under consideration, with additional training being provided for staff members.
The broader issue of antisocial behaviour has also been brought to the attention of the Joint Policing Committee and the local gardaí.