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Residents trying to reclaim Dublin park after intimidation, drug dealing and burnt out cars

One local woman says problems in the area have “got progressively worse over the years”.

17632118_1471766269553837_3278957030109910232_o Dumping in the area Source: Bawnogue Litter Watch/Facebook

Updated 10am, 13 November 

RESIDENTS IN A South Dublin area are trying to reclaim a local park that has been blighted by antisocial behaviour in recent years.

Friends of St Cuthbert’s Park is a group of residents from Bawnogue and Deansrath that is supported by the South West Clondalkin Community Safety Forum.

Councillor Mark Ward is involved with the group and says local residents are trying to redevelop the park “for the better of everyone”.

Ward says some residents are afraid to go to St Cuthbert’s Park due to antisocial behaviour such as open drug dealing and cars being burnt out, including during the day.

“There are lads on scramblers (motorbikes) driving from one end of the park to the other dealing drugs.

There’s a huge problem with illegal dumping and sightings of rats. Cars are being driven over walls and set alight.

Ward says some people are “rightly” afraid to use the park in case they’re hit by one of the scramblers.

He says there was an increased garda presence in the area over Halloween which helped limit the antisocial behaviour, however more needs to be done.

17202686_996357860508548_8195034939061185278_n Litter in the area Source: Bawnogue Litter Watch/Facebook

In March, South Dublin County Council (SDCC) agreed to install CCTV cameras in the park but Ward says this has been delayed. The goal is to have the live feed streamed into the local garda station.

Ward says the cameras need to be installed as soon as possible in a bid to crack down on antisocial behaviour and crime.

“It’d be a beautiful park if it was maintained and it wasn’t being vandalised. It has the potential to be a really viable park in the community,” he tells TheJournal.ie.

Getting worse over the years

Lisa Kinsella Coleman, secretary of Friends of St Cuthbert’s Park, says problems in the area have worsened in recent years.

“I’m from the area and I think it has got progressively worse over the years.

It can be a scary thing for any person walking on their own through the park … There’s intimidation.

Kinsella Coleman agrees that illegal dumping is a “huge problem”, but says the council cleans the park “regularly enough”.

She says some people have broken down walls in the park to get cars in and burn them, adding: “The park really needs to be secured.”

11 The summer fête, which was organised by Friends of St Cuthbert's Park Source: Friends of St Cuthbert's Park

Kinsella Coleman says a summer fête in the park was a big success and showed what kind of events can be held there. The Friends of St Cuthbert’s Park group is looking for more funding to arrange other initiatives.

“We’re trying to reclaim the park and bring it back into the heart of the local community like it should be,” she tells us.

Young people

Ward says a lack of services in the area have led to some young people engaging in antisocial behaviour, but notes that some of the problems are caused by people from other areas.

The vast majority of people in the area are law-abiding and just want to get on with their own lives. It’s a small element that’s bringing the whole place down.

“Especially when it’s dark at nighttime residents feel intimidated by young people hanging around.

“There are some very good lads, they’re just walking on the wrong side of the road at the moment. It wouldn’t take much to get them back,” Ward says of young people in the area.

Councillor Francis Timmons told us he has also raised these issues with SDCC and will continue to “work on solutions”. He says Crosscare are also “doing great work in the area, and there is a very active community centre”.

Intimidation and aggression towards council staff

A spokesperson for SDCC said the council is “very mindful of issues” in or near the park and “has been working with relevant stakeholders to try to develop a suite of proposals, both short and long-term, to help address the issues”.

The spokesperson told TheJournal.ie the council has met with elected representatives, local gardaí and the South West Clondalkin Safety Forum to discuss the situation.

18880343_1056454601165540_4295643046471577533_o Dumping in the area Source: Bawnogue Litter Watch/Facebook

“A high-level steering committee meeting of relevant stakeholders has been established, and the council has also been working to support Friends of St Cuthbert’s to enable recent social or community events to take place and compliments the group on their activities to date.”

The spokesperson said the design of the park “seems to attract ASB [antisocial behaviour] due to low level access, extensive hedgerows, a high mound, and the absence of surveillance/CCTV in the area”.

“A report has recently been received and options contained in the report are currently being assessed, including those for the provision of CCTV – for which €30,000 has been made available in the 2017 budget.

“In the interim, the council’s public realm unit continues to undertake comprehensive cleanups, including the removal of burnt out cars.”

The spokesperson added that council employees at times require assistance from gardaí as they have also been “subjected to a high level of intimidation and aggression in this area”.

Read: Man arrested after drugs worth €1.1 million seized in Dublin

Read: Ireland has only recovered by 41% from the recession

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Órla Ryan

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