PLAYGROUNDS across Cork are being used as drinking dens and centres for drug dealing as there are no by-laws in place to address anti-social behaviour within them.
That's according to Kanturk based county councillor Timmy Collins (Ind) who made his comments during a debate on the issue at this week's meeting of the council's northern area committee.
Cllrs Noel McCarthy (Lab) and Frank O'Flynn (FF) both placed motions calling for the immediate introduction of bye-laws governing playgrounds in a bid to stamp out anti-social behaviour.
Cllr O'Flynn pointed out that this issue had been discussed as far back as 2009 and that a full proposal for the introduction of bye-laws governing playgrounds had been put before the full council in 2011.
"The fact that four years later this has not been properly addressed is a disgrace. At the moment we are unable to tackle any anti-social behaviour or take action against people who damage equipment because these bye-laws have yet to be put in place," said Cllr O'Flynn.
"The safety of children is of paramount importance. As a council we have a duty to protect them and their parents and I move that this council take immediate action to address this problem."
Cllr McCarthy said that while incidents of anti-social behaviour were relatively rare, they still needed to be "stamped out".
"It is not fair on people who use these facilities, who reasonably expect to be able to relax in a safe environment. These statutory laws need to be put in place to allow gardai to take the appropriate action when it is warranted," said Cllr McCarthy.
"Kerry County Council has had these bye-laws in place since 2008 and I feel it is important we follow their lead. We have been speaking about this for years and still nothing has been done. The time for waiting is gone and action needs to be taken now," he added.
Lending his support to the debate, Cllr Collins said there was "no question" but that there were anti-social issues in playgrounds across the county. "Particularly after dark, when there is drinking going on and drugs being bought and sold," he said.
Divisional manager Moira Murrell said she did not want the impression to go out that there were high levels anti-social behaviour in council playgrounds.
She agreed with a suggestion by Cllr Gerard Murphy (FG) to push the matter forward through the council's Strategic Policy Committee with a view to the swift introduction of the relevant bye-laws.