What’s being done to address issues in Sean Walsh Park?
The discarded packaging from e-cigarette puff bars in the playground in Sean Walsh Park on Sunday morning

What’s being done to address issues in Sean Walsh Park?

DISCARDED packaging from flavoured e-cigarettes called puff bars – which are only to be sold to those over 18 but are popular with teenagers – was left around the playground in Sean Walsh Park over the weekend.

The littered playground was a point of concern for parents who brought their children to the play space on Sunday morning, including Echo news editor William O’Connor who had brought his three children there.

“I was surprised to see that there had been that level of anti-social behaviour in the playground,” he said, “particularly in an area that’s for children.

“I know issues have been raised in public meetings about anti-social behaviour in Sean Walsh Park, but what’s being done to address the issue?”

This is the latest in a series of issues with anti-social behaviour in Sean Walsh Park, which last February saw local residents host a community meeting to ‘reclaim’ the park after incidents of anti-social behaviour, including assaults.

Sean Walsh Park was discussed at two recent South Dublin County Council meetings, where questions were asked about what’s being done to quell anti-social behaviour in the park.

In response to the latest question, which was submitted by Fianna Fáil councillors Teresa Costello and Charlie O’Connor at last month’s meeting of the Tallaght Area Committee, the council outlined measures they were planning to implement.

The council stated that it has “regular and ongoing contact with the gardai in relation to many issues including that of safety and security in Sean Walsh Park.

“Requests were received from the gardai for release of CCTV footage from the park in relation to a number of incidents that occurred in the park since the start of the year, these requests were responded to and the incidents in question have been discussed between the council and the gardai.

“The gardai have advised that they have increased their level of patrols and surveillance in the park in response to these incidents.”

The council added that there is already CCTV in place in a number of locations in the park, however it will seek advice from gardaí as to whether there’s a need for additional CCTV in the park.

In William O’Connor’s view, the CCTV does not work as an effective deterrent for those engaging in anti-social behaviour, and led to scenes like the one that the playground users came across on Sunday.

“I think CCTV is good to have, because it does bring a safety element,” he explained.

“But to have a park ranger ‘on the beat’ would have a bigger response from park users and people who are abusing the park.

“CCTV isn’t going to stop anti-social behaviour, but if a park ranger or a member of An Garda Síochána was in the park then suddenly the groups of people engaging in anti-social behaviour would disperse.”

In their reply to Cllr Costello’s and O’Connor’s question last month, the council stated they had requested a meeting on-site with a community garda about the issues in the park which they expected to take place within the next fortnight.

The Echo contacted South Dublin County Council to ask if this meeting had since taken place and, if so, what the outcome of it was.

A council spokesperson said this meeting is scheduled to take place later this month, while they increased the presence of park rangers in order to deter anti-social behaviour.

The council spokesperson added that the anti-social behaviour incidents that were reported to Gardai since January 2022 have all happened after park closing hours.

The council previously stated that “active and positive use of the park is considered to be the best way to eliminate anti-social behaviour in the park”, and outlined some of their plans including the development of a new pitch, footpath improvements and an outdoor exercise area.

Members of the public are advised to call Tallaght Garda Station on 01 666 6000 if they witness or experience intimidating, threatening or anti-social behaviour in Sean Walsh Park.

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