THE Parks Department of Cork City Council has vowed to increase maintenance of a city playground after reports that discarded drug paraphernalia has become so prevalent that some local residents are taking it upon themselves to clean it up.
Cork City Council revealed last week that Grattan Hill playground is one of five drug hotspots in the city with council officials recording up to two incidents of discarded drug items per week at the location.
Concerned local parent and committee member of the Railway Park Residents' Association, Fi O'Meara, regularly uses the park with her two young children and said that she sees evidence of drug use every time she visits.
Foil trays are the most common instance of drug litter, while needles are often found in the playground, according to Ms O'Meara.
She said the health and safety of children using the park is at constant risk.
The association called on Cork City Council to monitor the park on a daily basis to ensure children are not hurt.
“Our main issue is the drug paraphernalia and the amount of needles that we come across when we are in there with our kids,” Ms O'Meara told the Evening Echo.
“We've really pushed with them that we need someone regularly coming in [to clean up], almost on a daily basis because it's there all the time.
“People are sleeping in the park. There are no bins and nobody to come in and collect rubbish.
Ms O'Meara said that she has not cleaned up any drug debris herself but knows of one resident who has done so.
“I am there three or four times a week and I see stuff every day. I definitely see needles on a weekly basis and foil trays on a daily basis.
It's a really big health and safety risk and we'd just like the council to engage with us on it. Even if they can't give us a better play area, they need to maintain its safety,” added Ms O'Meara.
Up to two incidents of discarded drug items per week have been recorded and dealt with by city officials at locations at City Hall and the nearby fire station grounds, as well as South Mall Plaza, St Peter's Park, Mardyke Skate Park and Grattan Hill playground over the last three months, according to figures released by Cork City Council.
The figures were requested by city councillor Nicholas O'Keeffe.
“The figures are very concerning. Some of the areas have quite frequent incidents. It's a case that people should take extreme caution,” he said.
Cork City Council community liaison officer Stephen Scully said Grattan Hill playground will now be more closely monitored after locals voiced concerns.
“[The playground] is small pocket park at the bottom of Grattan Hill,” he said.
“The Parks Department will increase the level of maintenance at the park and review regularly.
Council staff do engage routinely with both the Residents Association and residents in the area,” he added.
Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin and Acting Superintendent John Quilter have both urged people not to touch drug paraphernalia and to immediately contact Cork City Council or their local Garda Station upon its discovery.