Failure of Council to enact playground bylaws “an absolute disgrace”
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Cork County Council has been slammed for its failure to implement bylaws for playgrounds adopted two years ago. It’s emerged that draft bylaws were drawn up in 2011 and went out for public consultation. After that process was completed, councillors in north Cork, where the bylaws were to be enacted on a pilot scheme, expected them to be enacted. They found out at a meeting of the northern area committee of the council on Monday that hadn’t been done.
“It’s an absolute disgrace this hasn’t happened. It’s a shambles, we should put this process in place immediately,” Cllr Frank O’Flynn said.
Cllr Noel McCarthy, chairman of the northern area committee who had tabled a motion on the matter which led to the heated discussion that followed, said he was concerned that nothing had been done to enact the bylaws which would give Gardai the power to clamp down on anti-social behavour including drinking and drug-dealing.
“We’ve been speaking about this for a couple of years now and nothing’s been done about it. The time is gone for waiting, it has to be acted on now,” he said.
Cllr Kevin O’Keefe said he was deeply shocked that the council hadn’t at least acted to protect children from having their photograph taken by paedophiles. Pointing out that swimming pools have very strict rules in that regard, he said the bylaws must be enacted immediately.
Council officials responded to the criticism, saying there had been some concerns about the implementation and enforcability of the bylaws. They did however agree to try to progress them and promised to inform councillors of such progress at their next monthly meeting.
Meanwhile a local man is left wondering why it takes a private individual to raise the matter of bylaws for playgrounds in the first place. Dan Noonan, a member of Kilworth Community Council, believes it should be a matter for local representatives to address. He brought the issue up in 2008. Kilworth had just got a new community playground at the time and he was wondering how best children using it could be safeguarded. On hearing that Kerry County Council had just adopted and implemented bylaws for all such facilities in the county, he wrote to them and they supplied him with a copy which he passed on to Cork County Council officials. He also met with then Chief Superintendent Kieran McGann to discuss the matter. Dan says that both parties were very receptive and it looked promising that such measures would be adopted in Cork.
There was progress on the matter in 2011, Dan recalls, but says: “it seems to have died a death after that.” While he says only a tiny minority of people abuse playground facilities, he feels that having bylaws in place act as a stronger deterrent than simply having playground rules that are hard to enforce.
“My whole motivation in this is driven by the fact that playgrounds are a community amenity supplied by locals, albeit with supported funding from the council. They need to be protected against abuse,” he said.
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