BOOZING youngsters going to and coming from the Smith’s Field playground were instilling fear in College Avenue residents, a Mountmellick Joint Policing Committee meeting heard on Thursday evening.
In a letter, the residents complained of vandalism to houses and cars, intimidation of children, an “unacceptable” level of drinking and sleep deprivation due to shouting and noise.
Declared Cllr Bobby Delaney: “Those people down there are suffering. Those people have a horrid life down there.”
Cllr Marc Connolly: “At night-time residents are afraid to walk home after 12 o’ clock.” He advocated closing the right-of-way from the top of College Avenue to Patrick Street in an effort to resolve the problem.
After a long discussion, it was agreed to see if the erection of surveillance cameras in the area would curb or eliminate the anti-social behaviour. And Sergt Ingrid Moore promised to discuss the issue with the Garda Superintendent.
Cllr Connolly: “We have to start the process of doing away with the right-of-way.”
Sergt Moore: “I have spoken with the residents. They say the same. I would support the proposal.”
Deputy Co Manager Ian McCormack: “It’s a reseved function of Councillors to extinguish a right-of-way.”
Chairman Cllr Pat Bowe said 16 cameras were to be erected in the area in the next week.
Cllr Delaney told of meeting a crowd of young lads with cans coming down College Avenue. The light in the Smith’s Field playground was on until 11.45pm, he said.
Manager McCormack: “If we had those (playground) facilities in Emo we would manage them.”
Ms Sheila Coyle-Dunne: “I don’t think you can compare the two places.”
Cllr Connolly said at 3 o’clock on a Sunday evening, about 20 teenagers had tried to intimidate a father and his three-year-old son away from the Smith’s Field playground.
Cllr Delaney: “The bridge is the problem.”
Cllr Stephen Lynch: “Would it be possible to ban the drinking?”
Sergt Moore: “If we find them with cans, and they are underage, we take the cans. You could move the same crew three or four times. Come back an hour later, and they are back. A huge problem in College Avenue is pedestrian traffic going to other areas.”
Cllr Ollie Payne: “I grew up there and played football and hurling and other things in Smith’s Field. You can put up a wall. You are not going to keep them (teenagers) out of it.”
Sergt Moore: “I do think the television cameras are going to help.”
Ms Coyle-Dunnne noted that an awful lot of people from areas like Cullenwood and Cullenbeg walked through Smith’s Field as a shortcut. Were that route closed, they would have to come the whole way through The Harbour, she noted.