Used syringes, human excrement and 'a lump of heroin' was discovered in Rath Cemetery at the weekend, raising concerns over anti-social behaviour and fears for personal safety at one of Tralee's busiest cemeteries.
The paraphernalia was discovered by Cllr Sam Locke as he walked the cemetery on Saturday afternoon with some constituents who raised concerns with Cllr Locke over the upkeep of Rath Cemetery in recent months.
The drugs were found both inside and outside the ruins of the old 10th century church, with Cllr Locke saying their approach to the church may even have startled the drug user in the act of 'shooting up'.
"We found a small tray containing a lump of heroin, a syringe and sterilising wipes just outside the ruins. It looked like we had startled them as to find heroin left there was unusual. Inside the church we found more syringes and human excrement," he said.
"My biggest fear is the fact a child could go over there playing and pick themselves with a needle. Kids are very adventurous in their play, and the idea of picking up those syringes is frightening. It galled me seeing a lump of heroin in a tray, the plastic gloves and sanitary wipes. It looked bad," Cllr Locke said.
Cllr Locke contacted the Gardaí straight away on finding the paraphernalia and was told their removal was the responsibility of Kerry County Council. The discovery is also in keeping with the recent escalation in drug activity across the county since lockdown measures were introduced in March.
"I suggested to the guards that they should go over to Rath and see who the hell is bringing in and taking these drugs," Cllr Locke added.
On Monday morning, KCC 'actioned' a total clean-up of the area where it's understood the drug paraphernalia was taken away.
Meanwhile, Cllr Locke added that a 'high volume' of people have contacted him since the retirement of the caretaker at Rath Cemetery. Cllr Locke tabled a motion at a recent Tralee Municipal District meeting calling for two caretakers to be employed in Rath cemetery instead of one.
"The grass, weeds, and trees being allowed to grow uncontrollably between graves is the main complaint. I'm getting on average two calls a day from people asking what are we doing about it?" Cllr Locke said.
"It's the size of the cemetery, it warrants two individuals with certain powers of attorney so they could deter an anti-social element. They would have the right to exclude some individuals from going into Rath at certain times."
Cllr Locke concluded by saying that a long-term solution at the cemetery may have to be set opening and closing times so that people would be able to walk around there without facing anti-social problems.
"Hopefully KCC will make a start on this. The Rath Cemetery Committee cannot do this on their own; they need help," he said.