Bottles thrown at athletes

A TRAINING session for 76 children from Mountmellick Athletic Club was cut short last Wednesday because beer bottles were being thrown at them by youths celebrating their Junior Cert results.

A TRAINING session for 76 children from Mountmellick Athletic Club was cut short last Wednesday because beer bottles were being thrown at them by youths celebrating their Junior Cert results.

Club trainer Ron Lalor told Mountmellick’s Sgt Ingrid Moore and Inspector Martin Harrington that “absolutely zilch” happened when he reported the incident, which took place at 7pm on Wednesday, September 12.

“We had 76 kids at the running track, and kids were throwing bottles at them. I rang Portlaoise Garda station and they told me ‘what can I do?’” he said. He decided to cancel the training session for the childrens’ safety.

The running facilities are in Smiths Field, a centre for anti-social behaviour with vandalism, underage drinking and intimidation regularly reported. It prompted several more complaints at last Thursday’s public Joint Policing meeting from residents of College Avenue and Kirwan Park.

Mr Lalor was frustrated that no local Gardaí visited the field during the training sessions of the club.

“I mentioned it to the guards when we reformed the club, and I was told it would be part of the patrol. I haven’t seen a guard in that field during a training session,” he said.

Mountmellick’s recently appointed Sgt Moore disagreed.

“I’d dispute that. I have given Smiths Field my attention, as well as Kirwan Park and College Avenue, all the problem areas. I have walked through there at three and four o’clock in the morning,” she said.

“If kids aged seven to fourteen are in danger, I think guards should be there,” Mr Lalor said.

“It’s time to give names,” Inspt Harrington said, but was told this had been done.

“I know who some of them are. Absolutely zilch happened,” replied Mr Lalor.