Once again, major concerns have been raised over anti-social behaviour in a laneway linking Green Street with Talbot Green after a man was reportedly found passed out with a needle hanging from his arm in broad daylight just yards from a Primary School.
The residents of Talbot Green have been rallying together in recent times in a bid to tackle the issues that have plagued the area once and for all, however, they find themselves continuously dejected as they regularly discover syringes and drugs paraphernalia in an area which children and elderly people pass through on a daily basis.
The situation improved slightly last year with the temporary installation of CCTV cameras by Wexford County Council. A number of community clean-ups were organised by local residents and a family fun day on the green last summer served to strengthen the bonds of the local community. However, their resolve is now being tested as things seem to have taken a turn for the worst once again, since the temporary CCTV cameras were removed.
Residents now say they've had enough and will be circulating a petition in a bid to drive Wexford County Council to take action. A number of elected representatives attended a meeting in the area last week at which options were discussed.
'There clearly are anti-social behaviour issues in that laneway and drugs paraphernalia is found there on a regular basis,' said Cllr George Lawlor. 'We've discussed ways in which to tackle the problem including gating the laneway and only allowing access at certain times and the installation of CCTV once again. The council and the gardaí need to work together on this issue together and this type of behaviour needs to be tackled and eradicated from the area.'
Among the options on the table include closing off the laneway completely, putting a gate on it with limited access or re-installing CCTV cameras. Cllr Tom Forde believes the latter is the best option.
'I had worked hard to get temporary cameras installed at this location before,' he said. 'They were there for seven months and I think we only saw one incident in that time. I don't think people would be shooting up or dealing there if they can see that there's cameras on them. It's as simple as that.'
'I know there are GDPR issues and it's a bit of a minefield, but I would push for cameras that can be directly monitored by gardaí. At the moment, you never know what a child could pick up there or they could fall on a needle running through the laneway to school. It's a real concern. In fairness to the residents up there, they've done great work with community clean-ups and family fun days and they always report it when they find anything sinister, but they're swimming against the tide here.'
One resident and mother Maria Rowe says that residents are determined to sort this problem out once and for all and they will be petitioning the council to this effect.
'This has been going on a long time,' she said. 'I think when the temporary cameras went in, it did act as a deterrent, but in recent weeks, we've been finding things like burning spoons for heroin and injection fluid for syringes. Last year we did a cleanup and we took out syringe after syringe. We had to leave a bag there for the council to take away there was so many of them.'
However, the sense of disgust culminated in last week's incident whereby a man was supposedly found sprawled out in the laneway with a syringe sticking out of his arm as a primary school emptied out nearby. 'It's getting to the stage where some people feel too intimidated to use the laneway at all,' said Maria. 'There's elderly people or single mothers who'd be a bit more nervous. My daughter is starting school down there now and as she gets older, there'll probably be times where she'll want to walk home on her own. As parents and residents, we're doing all we can. We're just protecting our own.'
While the Talbot Green residents now plan to go door to door, discussing their options, Maria believes that one option stands out.
'I think if we had cameras that were directly linked to the garda station that would solve a lot of the problems,' she said. 'Obviously the gardaí are called whenever anything is going on, but sometimes they can take a while to get here and the people will have moved on by the time they arrive.'
Maria says that despite a renewed community spirit among the residents in Talbot Green, they feel they need the help of the authorities to get a handle on the situation. Mayor Leonard Kelly says he's received assurances from gardaí that they intend to increase both plain clothes surveillance and uniformed patrols in the area.
Management at the nearby CBS Primary School said that they were aware of ongoing problems with the laneway, but did not wish to comment on the matter, stating gardaí had been notified of any concerns they had.