Antisocial behaviour gone "beyond a joke" in Ballincollig as playground set alight twice in a week 

Gardaí are currently investigating the suspected criminal damage by fire incident, which occurred last night in a council playground at the west side of Ballincollig
Antisocial behaviour gone "beyond a joke" in Ballincollig as playground set alight twice in a week 

Gardai are currently investigating the suspected criminal damage by fire incident, which occurred in a council playground at the west side of Ballincollig, near the Lidl supermarket. Pic: Cork Safety Alerts/Marie O

Anti-social arson has gone “beyond a joke at this stage” in Ballincollig, as a local playground was set alight last night for the second time in a week.

Gardaí are currently investigating the suspected criminal damage by fire incident, which occurred in a council playground at the west side of Ballincollig, near the Lidl supermarket.

A Garda spokesperson said no arrests have yet been made in relation to the fire, which occurred at approximately 9:35pm last night, 16 August.

Joanne Murphy, local area rep for Aontú, arrived at the scene of the fire last night to black plumes of smoke, and called the fire brigade.

“It was quite a big fire, and it’s the second fire this week in the playground. There was one at the weekend where one of the little rocking horses for smaller kids went up in flames,” she said.

Aontú has been campaigning for a greater fire brigade and Garda presence in Ballincollig, as Ballincollig Fire Station currently only operates on a retained basis, and the local Garda station is only open for three hours every day, and is closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

“We really lack presence on the ground out here, and we’re having our environment really depleted by these fires,” said Ms Murphy.

She highlighted that Garda crime statistics show criminal damage in Ballincollig has risen by a third since 2018.

“This is a significant problem and we would be asking what is being done about it,” she said.

Fire brigade attend to blaze in Ballincollig playground. Pic: Eolan Ryng
Fire brigade attend to blaze in Ballincollig playground. Pic: Eolan Ryng

Colm Kelleher, Fianna Fail councillor in Ballincollig, said that arson “attacks” on local amenities seems to be becoming a trend in the area.

“We had issues in the regional park with the toilet being burnt, the benches being burnt, the reconstructed mill that was burnt… and it’s not the first time that playground has been targeted, there have been other small arson attacks in there over the years,” he said.

Mr Kelleher said he hopes the Garda investigation into the incident will bear fruit.

“Hopefully that investigation will bear some fruit and these people will be caught, because it’s gone beyond a joke at this stage… This individual has to be lucky every time to get away with it, we only have to be lucky once, and we will be lucky eventually and they will be caught. When they are caught they will be brought before the courts and prosecuted under the full rigours of the law,” he said.

As chairman of the Joint Policing Committee in Cork city, Mr Kelleher said he will be calling for more Gardaí in Ballincollig and across Cork city at an upcoming national policing authority conference.

Sinn Fein Councillor Eolan Ryng said there also needs to be a long term plan to address anti-social behaviour in the area.

“This is a constant problem that unfortunately does appear to be getting worse. In the shorter term we need to see more Garda resources, but in the longer term we need things to divert people away from this behaviour,” he said.

“Councillors have written to the ETB looking for a youth project to be put in place in Ballincollig that can build bridges with young people at a young age. Similar projects were very, very successful in other areas.

“This is not to say that all of these incidents are carried out by young people, but even without the antisocial behaviour last night, I think there’s a good case to be made with the young age demographic in Ballincollig, that a dedicated youth projected should be funded by the ETB,” he added.

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