Thursday 25 April 2019

'MMA' fighting at local all-weather

Cllr Duncan Smith at Thornleigh Playground
Cllr Duncan Smith at Thornleigh Playground

John Manning

A Swords all-weather facility is being turned into an 'MMA Cage' by local youths according to a Labour Councillor.

Cllr Duncan Smith made the claim at a meeting of the Swords Area Committee where he told council colleagues of 'MMA fighting' at the all weather facility in the Broadmeadow Linear Park in Swords.

Speaking after the meeting to the Fingal Independent on the issue, Cllr Smith said: 'The all-weather facility is not, to the best of my knowledge, used in any official capacity by any sports club.

'Unfortunately, it has become better known locally as a spot for young boys to fight to make it more like an MMA cage rather than for its intended purpose.'

The regular violent antisocial behaviour at the facility was raised in the context of discussing the nearby children's playground at Thornleigh which was gutted recently in an apparent deliberate act of arson.

Cllr Smith said it was time to tackle vandalism and antisocial behaviour in the area.

While welcoming news that the playground is likely to be reparied and reopened in mid April, the Labour councillor said that the something needed to be done to make sure the kind of antisocial behaviour attracted to both the playground and the all-weather facility is tackled.

Cllr Smith said: 'I do not want to be in a position in future when I am faced with a choice of keeping a playground open or closing it down permanently.

'However, unless measures such as improved lighting, CCTV and added fencing are provided to the likes of Thornleigh Playground and the all weather square in the adjacent Broadmeadow linear park.'

Cllr Smith said: 'We need to reclaim our playgrounds back from vandals and those intent on keeping parents and young children away. And we will.

'I welcome the swift move the Council have made to repair this playground.

'Particularly so as this playground was delivered to the community as a result of community fundraising from the Swords Needs Playgrounds Group.

This is the community's facility in the truest sense of the word and it needs protecting.'

While the Labour councillor favours measures like lighting and cctv coverage to protect these community facilities, the council have effectively ruled out both approaches.

Council officials advised the area committee that cctv is not an option at the moment until there is clarity on the data protection issues associated with public cctv in the light of GDPR legislation.

The local authority was not convinced the way forward was lighting the playground at night either.

Mick Carroll from the council's operations department said he believed that would attract more people to the playground at night.

Fingal Independent