Limerick councillors call for CCTV to tackle criminal element

The People's Park in Limerick City Centre.

LIMERICK City and County Council has been asked to consider the introduction of CCTV cameras in the People’s Park to prevent antisocial behaviour and drug dealing.

A councillor also described how a park staff member was threatened with a whip when he tried to prevent a sulky being driven in the park.

Proposing the motion at Monday’s Metropolitan District meeting, Labour Party Councillor Joe Leddin took the view that cameras would help apprehend those involved in criminal activities.

“The People’s Park is the jewel in our crown in attracting people into the city centre but there is a huge issue with drug dealing, antisocial behaviour, bullying, I could go on. I have had numerous calls about it,” Cllr Leddin told the council executive.

“I am still getting calls every week. It is a sad sign when people won’t walk through the park because of the element using it.”

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Seconding the motion, Cllr Conor Sheehan (Labour) pointed to the lack of Community Gardaí as an issue.

“Community Gardaí don’t even have a work phone, you have to contact them by email. To not have a direct line is ridiculous,” Cllr Sheehan claimed.

“Community Gardaí only have their own personal phones. You have to send an email and it’s like hitting a ping pong ball out into the ether. For the love and honour of Jesus, would ye give Community Gardaí work phones!”

Fine Gael councillor Sarah Kiely also supported the motion and highlighted the need to protect council staff. She told council members that she had witnessed an incident in the park and had to call Gardaí.

Speaking to the Limerick Post after Monday’s meeting, Cllr Kiely said that she was in the park a few months ago when a small sulky with two young men on it came in and started to use the paths.

“The park warden immediately ran over and asked them to leave. They got aggressive and that is when I rang the Gardaí. I saw them raising the whip to him, which caused quite a reaction,” Cllr Kiely explained.
“People were afraid and rightly so. Nobody goes to work to be threatened or abused and the park wardens certainly have their share of incidents,” she insisted.

Cllr Kiely went on to call for Council staff to be fitted with bodycams to protect them while carrying out their duties in the park.

“They have been threatened on numerous occasions,” she claimed.

“If we can’t get CCTV, maybe we can get bodycams for evidence.  People don’t feel safe in the park. We continue to contact Gardaí regarding extra patrols in the city centre and in the People’s Park.”

Sinn Féin councillor Tom Collopy called at this week’s Metropolitan meeting for the ‘nefarious elements’ in the People’s Park to be moved on.

“There’s a real concern about the antisocial behaviour and drug dealing in the park. It is attracting nefarious elements, the same culprits all the time, and it is time we grasp it and call an end to it. People, rather than walking through the park, are walking around it.”

The Council’s Head of Digital Services Alan Dooley explained that in order to utilise CCTV in a public space, it is necessary to have the legal basis to do so.

“The installation of Community CCTV involves a very stringent process balancing the right to privacy with the need for safer communities. Each location must have a legal basis and adhere to the principles of data protection. The installation of a camera in a public space requires direction from An Garda Síochána,” he said.