Saturday 23 March 2019

Swords playground shut after apparent arson attack sets it ablaze

Ken Phelan

A fire causing 'massive damage' to a children's playground in Thornleigh in Swords last week has caused great anger in the local community and has resulted in the closure of the popular facility 'until further notice.'

Amid reported ongoing anti-social behaviour at the site, a gang of youths were seen setting a mattress alight before fleeing the area, according to local witnesses.

The ensuing fire destroyed a number of children's playground structures at the facility, as well as causing significant damage to the grounds itself.

Following the incident on February 6, Gardai have been provided with 'very clear' footage of the attack, which is hoped will help identify the culprits.

Local councillor Duncan Smith (LAB), who lives near the area, said : 'A good third of the playground is destroyed, but because of that damage, the whole playground has to be shut due to health and safety grounds.

'That playground was one of two that was mostly funded by a community fundraising drive back in 2013 when there wasn't much money going around for playgrounds, so it's extra hurtful to members of the community.'

Cllr Smith said that, with ongoing issues of anti-social behaviour at the facility, the Thornleigh Residents Association last year met with Fingal County Council requesting that street lighting be erected in close proximity to provide extra visibility.

This, he said, had yet to be provided, with residents feeling that an incident such as this was 'inevitable.'

He said: 'A few parents have said to me that they'd stopped taking their kids down there over the past few months because there were some older teenage kids around, and that the environment there wasn't great.

'That only came to my attention after the fire, and I know the autumn and winter wouldn't have made it a nice environment with all the teenage kids there either.'

Cllr Smith said: 'Hopefully the guards have a clear line on them and can catch up with who it was, and bring them to task on what was done.

The councillor said an update on the issue was hoped for at a meeting this week of Fingal County Council.

Fingal Independent