TWO local sporting clubs dedicated to providing a positive outlet for local youth have been struck by thoughtless vandals who have hit state-of-theart new changing rooms before the clubs could even get their hands on the keys.
St. Finian's GAA and River Valley Rangers were looking forward to using new changing rooms at Ridgewood playing fields as the last pieces of the long-awaited development were put in place by the developer before the hand over of the facility to Fingal County Council. Ironically, one of the last jobs to be carried out at the facility was to put security grills on the windows but now, thanks to the vandals, eight of those windows are smashed and the clubs now face another long delay before finally getting to use these badly needed facilities. The vandalism at the changing rooms follows a pattern of anti-social behaviour at the pitches in Ridgewood since they opened earlier this year. According to St Finian's club secretary, Frank Egan, ten to 15 burnt out wheelie bins have been found and removed from the pitches since they opened. Local youths are stealing wheelie bins in Ridgewood and bringing them to the pitches to set them alight, it is alleged. The facility is protected by a steel gate and vehicle barrier but these measures have proven little use against the determined vandals. The latest incident, which happened last week, saw windows smashed in the changing rooms and gutters kicked off the building. Mr Egan said he was ' disappointed and frustrated' at the vandals actions and reminded the thugs that it was ' their neighbour's kids and their friends' that use these facilities. Facilities he said that were for the ' whole community' and not just the two sporting clubs they have been allocated to. 'It is very frustrating. These are fine changing rooms and newly built. They have not even be handed over yet and they have been vandalised. All the windows are broken and the gutters have been kicked off,' the St Finian's club secretary said. With yet another delay in handing over the changing rooms, St Finian's and all the clubs using the Ridgewood pitches will continue to change at River Valley and then drive to the Ridgewood fields to play. Mr. Egan said that the vandals: 'consider what they are doing is fun and games but they are not gaining in any way from what they are doing.' He said that the actions of this handful of youths was damaging a club that did a lot for local young people and had a ' vibrant' juvenile section catering for more than 250 underage players. He said he was confident that no club member would be engaged in this kind of activity and called on the vandals to stop and remember that it was facilities used their friends and neighbours they were attacking.