Thursday 23 May 2019

Real lessons must be learned after severe Halloween damage

Hubert Murphy

Lessons must be learned after taxpayers were left with the bill to clean up thousands of euro worth of damage following a series if illegal bonfires around Drogheda on Halloween night.

One councillor also claims there was blatant drug taking at one scene in The Glen.

Councillor Paul Bell criticised the failure of Louth County Council to agree a co ordinated approach with on Garda Siochana and communities in the fight against a spate of antisocial and criminal behaviour in the lead up to and on Halloween night having promised at Joint Policing Committee meetings to correct the failings of previous year and in particular 2017.

"The failure of the local authority has permitted illegal dumping on public green spaces. Dumping of commercial and domestic waste, not to mention the burning of toxic material which has a negative impact on citizens suffering from COPD, asthma and bronchial conditions. While frontline members of staff from Council provided services to the best of their ability to communities requesting help to remove flammable materials, the lack of a co ordinated response involving the executive management of Louth County Council and An Garda Siochana fails our community".

Bell was also extremely critical of businesses on the Donore Road side of town, saying tyres were taken from one location and burned in Ballsgrove. 'However ,I do appreciate the efforts of Louth County Council Litter Wardens for their engagement which eventually resulted in proper security procedures being put in place".

Louth County Council have literally spent thousands of euro in both disposing of seized flammable materials and the clean up after the night which can go on for days.

He says Louth County staff should also be resourced to act on information furnished by residents requesting intervention. 'Many residents in St Finian's Park, Rathmullan and Ballsgrove have condemned the actions of those involved in driving a car into the bonfire which was an extremely dangerous act resulting in an explosion which thankfully did not injure bystander and not to mention the cost of removing the burnt out shell.'

Councillor Pio Smith said incidents in the Glen area were unacceptable.

" The behaviour that took place in the Glen area of Yellowbatter was disgraceful and had nothing to do with Holloween and enjoying a festival. A Bonfire was quickly erected by youths, not from the area after 4pm and when it was lit up to 150 people gathered around the fire and stayed late into the night. Local residents were abused by some people, again not from the area who took the opportunity to dump their waste for burning.

'There was open drinking and drug dealing taking place, with dealers driving their vehicles off the road and up onto the playing surface of a local girls soccer team. Broken glass and other rubbish was strewn over the road and green space. This behaviour cannot be allowed to take place next year.

'We have By Laws that control the use of alcohol in unauthorised places with fines of 1900 that can be imposed on people breaking the law. The Gardai may need to deploy more plain clothes officers to police bonfire activity.

'The guards dispersed the crowd at 11pm from the Glen, however when the guards left the gang returned. The council need to map out the areas where traditionally bonfires have been lit and target these areas over the 24 hours of Halloween. At the end of the day it is the households of the town that pay for the clean up and the fire service and local residents who suffer abuse from people who are breaking the law. This can't be allowed to continue"

Drogheda Independent