Monday 19 August 2019

Local residents fear tourist backlash after teenage girls allege rape and sex assault

Secluded: Gardaí at the scene of the alleged attacks in Courtown, Co Wexford
Secluded: Gardaí at the scene of the alleged attacks in Courtown, Co Wexford

Niamh Lynch

Residents of a seaside village at the centre of a sex attack inquiry say they fear a tourist backlash.

The Wexford seaside village of Courtown has been in the spotlight after three girls from the Dublin area were allegedly attacked there just after midnight last Sunday.

Gardaí have established the names of some of the teenage boys they want to interview over the alleged rape of a girl and the sexual assault of two others - all in their teens - in Courtown.

It's claimed one girl was held down by a male teenager while his friend raped her.

Gardaí have visited locations in Kilkenny and Wexford as part of the investigation as the manhunt for up to five boys who were allegedly involved continues.

Imelda Willoughby, manager of the Tavarie Hotel in Courtown, said yesterday that she had been "shocked" by the allegations of a sex attack.

"We're a little family run hotel," Ms Willoughby said.

"My mother-in-law has had it here for 40 years, and you'd have lots of people around. But there'd never be anything major like that.

"It's frightening for people. And we depend on tourism and that'll get out and it gives the place a bad name.

"But hopefully it'll be cleared up and will all be brought to light."

Read more here: Gardaí appeal for dash cam footage in Courtown ‘sex attack’ investigation

Janet Redmond, manager of Brooks supermarket in the village, also echoed the concern for tourism in the area.

"We just kind of hope it doesn't have a knock-on effect in the area, that it deters people - thinking it's a rough place," she said.

The seaside village is traditionally popular with tourists from the Dublin, Carlow, Kilkenny, and north Wicklow areas and has a range of caravan sites and tourist amenities.

Anthony Donohue, a Fine Gael councillor in the area, called the alleged incident "vile", and said that the area "came up a lot" in council meetings.

"There's a cohort of people that flock there at certain times of the year - yeah, it would be anti-social," he said. "We were putting in measures to tackle it - we're putting barriers in to close the Burrow Road to pedestrianise it.

"We passed a motion at the July meeting to put barriers in on a trial basis to see how it works.

"We'll talk to the local gardaí and see about putting foot patrols in around that area.

"Like it's a lovely area - it's wooded - but we just have to stamp out any anti-social behaviour that goes on down there."

Read more here: Gardaí identify teen suspects in holiday town sex attack claim

Robbie Ireton, owner of Ireton's Caravan Park, welcomed CCTV cameras that are being installed in the area currently but called on more gardaí to patrol the area.

"We need more gardaí on the beat, a garda is not going to see anything driving around - they have to be walking around. It means the community can rest easy," he said.

Irish Independent

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