Vandals slammed by club over ‘reckless’ actions with ESB box
By Maurice Garvey
VANDALS stepped up the stupidity stakes at Griffeen Valley Park in recent weeks – breaking into an ESB box in order to switch on floodlights for a late-night game of football.
The practice was slammed as “incredibly reckless” by club officials, who are practically working full-time to try and protect the Newcastle Road premises from anti-social attacks by youths.
Tens of thousands of euros worth of damage have been caused over the last nine years by thugs, including regular car break-ins, stolen equipment, damage to the front gates/signs, fences and an arson attack on the all-weather pitch.
Over the New Year, youths started to crack open the ESB box to turn on the floodlights – another cost borne by the club.
Other sports clubs use the grounds, including Lucan Harriers AC, Lucan Sarsfields, teams who rent the pitch, Operation Transformation and visiting teams.
Barry Gilmartin, of Weston Hockey Club said: “We would arrive on a Sunday morning with kids aged five and six, and you have high-pressured cables hanging out of the box. It’s a huge health and safety risk.
“We’ve put in a system now so they can’t switch on the lights, but we are always trying to mitigate against what we are dealing with. There are times when we have rented out the pitch and find kids playing there when they arrive.
He continued: “They intimidate members. I mean, what can you say to them. Their parents must know what they are doing. Last Halloween fireworks were thrown at players on the pitch. It’s no fun, especially when you have young kids with you. The gardaí are helpful but they can’t prosecute.”
Independent councillor Leona O’Toole, a member of Weston Hockey Club, has been campaigning for the last 12 months to get South Dublin County Council to install lights at the car park.
Cllr O’Toole said: “The good news is the council has committed to installing lights in the grounds. I have a motion in this week asking for an update on that.
“I have also asked to secure the ESB box, which was left exposed for any child to put their hand in.
“Two cars were broken into in the carpark last week – it’s ongoing. The grounds are in constant use with different clubs and activities.”