Estate seeks help on anti-social issues

Minority of families in Killarney estate causing headaches in pride of place winning development

Connie O'Leary, Jo and Louis Collier, David Foran Ballyspillane and Éadaoin Moynihan SKDP at Ballyspillane Killarney. Photo by Michelle Cooper Galvin
Connie O'Leary, Jo and Louis Collier, David Foran Ballyspillane and Éadaoin Moynihan SKDP at Ballyspillane Killarney. Photo by Michelle Cooper Galvin

Donal Nolan

One of the county's largest housing estates is fighting back against a minority in its midst wreaking havoc through anti-social behaviour and illegal dumping and burning.

Members of the Residents' Association of Ballyspillane came before Killarney Municipal Authority on Wednesday appealing for CCTV cameras to help police problems in the estate.

They were applauded by councillors and officials of the authority for their presentation and their commitment to the estate over the years.

The association achieved Family Resource Centre status for its community centre in 2004, opening a brand new Community and Family Resource Centre in 2009; and notching up several community awards including the Price of Place All-Island Award in 2012.

But despite the great gains of the association, a small minority - estimated at 10 families by one councillor - is creating a massive headache for the vast majority of the people of the estate.

Anti-social behaviour emerged as the primary concern of residents under a survey carried out by Dr Brendan O'Keeffe of Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, for the group - the findings of which were presented on Wednesday by Association chairperson David Foran and Treasurer Veronica Murphy.

"The survey asked the worst things about living in the estate. Anti-social behaviour was a stand out...with children's behaviour, litter and cars blocking roadways also issues which were presented," they informed the Council.

"Previously we made a submission to the Council for additional community safety measures and were given a commitment that, as part of the Killarney Purple Flag Safer Communities Initiative, CCTV cameras would be installed in the area to act as deterrents against illegal dumping and anti-social behaviour."

They have yet to see said cameras, urging the Council to make good on its commitment by installing the equipment by the autumn 'to help address and issue which is so clearly highlighted in our survey findings as a matter of concern for all residents'.

"It's like having a child who is acting up, you have to deal with it," Cllr Niall Kelleher, who facilitated the group's presentation to the authority, said in reference to the anti social behaviour problem. "It is our responsibility to help and assist you in living peacefully."

Cllr John Sheahan pointed to cutbacks in policing: "I've been looking for the gardaí to get more resources to put a community garda back on the beat. I found in other areas that when the community garda was there he knew who was acting up and issues were dealt with."

He was urged by senior gardaí, he said, to continue putting pressure on TDs and the Government to boost garda numbers in the town.

"I have people coming to me whose hearts are broken because they are being targeted. CCTV would provide the proof needed," he added.

Cllr John Joe Culloty said a 'handful of people' were ruining the peace of the vast majority. "It's not just how we deal with it, but when we deal with it as the longer we let it go on the worse it gets."

Cllr Michael Gleeson said it was 'unacceptable': "It's totally unacceptable in any estate...we have to make it clear to a tiny minority how unacceptable their attitude is."

Untethered horses grazing on green areas, dogs running feral and the burning of rubbish were also serious problems for the estate, Cllr Gleeson said.

"There are 10 families in Ballyspillane making life very hard for 206 other families...they are wreaking havoc," Cllr Donal O'Grady said.

Mayor Brendan Cronin described the CCTV as 'vitally important' as a deterrent.

Killarney Town Manager Angela McAllen praised the group's work and acknowledged the commitment on CCTV given by a predecessor.

She signalled good news for the association, saying the Council is on the point of making a joint application for CCTV in Ballyspillane as well as the town centre under a new funding scheme. "The gardaí advised us that the most effective way to have it in Ballyspillane would be to combine it with town cetrne CCTV. We are proposing both would be done at the same time."