Sunday 21 July 2019

Lone adults no longer let into child play areas

Anne Lucey

Anne Lucey

ADULTS will no longer be allowed into a playground unless accompanied by a child, under strict new laws being introduced.

Those caught breaking the new bye laws will be given a €75 fine.

It is hoped that the regulations will strengthen the hand of gardai amid growing concerns about adults entering playgrounds for sinister purposes.

As well as potential paedophile activity, the laws will crack down on vandals and adults who abuse playground equipment.

Nine new playgrounds have opened in Kerry, where the bye laws will be pioneered in January.

Banned activities under the new laws include begging, gambling and using obscene or profane language.

Dogs, other than guide dogs, are also outlawed and it will be an offence for anyone other than a child to use playground equipment.

It will also be an offence to write graffiti and to "molest, menace, threaten, annoy, fight or otherwise interfere with any person using a playground".

Loud music will be banned, along with skateboarding.

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The new bye laws were voted into law by councillors at the December meeting of Kerry County Council in Kenmare.

Originally the use of "camera, camera phone, video or any other video media device" was to be banned, unless the prior authorisation of the council was sought and granted.

However Councillor Toireasa Ferris pointed out that this restriction would mean families could not photograph their children.

The law was amended to allow only families to take photographs.

And Fianna Fail councillor Dan Kiely said playgrounds should be locked at night.

"I am more concerned about the over-age drinking in playgrounds and adults interfering with the equipment of young children," he said.

He said the playground in Ballybunion, Co Kerry, was often abused in the early hours.

Under the new regulations, nobody will be allowed into playgrounds after dark, unless that person is a council employee, director of community services John Breen said.

Mr Breen confirmed that in effect, adults would have to be accompanied by children in Kerry playgrounds.

However, a common sense approach would prevail, he added.

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