OPHELIA paid us a visit last week and left a trail of destruction after her, but she’s not the only one causing damage in Cork.
Thousands of euro of damage was done to an all-weather football pitch in Knocknaheeny in Cork city some time ago when a stolen car was driven around it, tearing up the surface.
The car burst through the gates, caused the damage to the pitch and was then burnt out and abandoned. It was just left there.
There was another incident a few weeks before that when the gates were rammed by a stolen car but it failed to get through. The second incident occurred while the club was in the process of fixing the gates after the first time.
This is a facility that is there for the benefit of the community, so why damage it?
Graffiti has been making an unwelcome comeback in the city as well, with Evergreen Street and Barrack Street among the latest victims.
One of our top tourist areas, Blarney, suffered recently when the local schools and the church were targeted by graffiti vandals.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, there was a serious issue in Cork city with vandalism. Schools, sports clubs, cars, trains, bus shelters and even buses were regular targets. It was open season on all property.
There was high unemployment, rising crime and stolen cars were a regular feature on the streets at night.
State agencies and community groups helped to improve that situation, but it didn’t happen overnight. It probably took close to 20 years of dedicated effort by many to bring about change.
I had hoped that we had learned something from those dark days, but maybe not. Winston Churchill said that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Let’s hope that is not the case in Cork, but the signs are not encouraging.
Cork City Council have said that there are 172 life buoys in the city and 300 are bought every year to replace those that have been lost or vandalised. I think they are now referred to as ring buoys, but anyway, this means that Cork City Council is spending €15,000 a year on replacements. But it’s not just about the money.
A ring buoy is designed to be used as a life-saving device when someone enters the river. It has only one purpose and that is to stop someone from drowning and yet there are plenty of idiots who think it’s entertaining to chuck them into the water on their way home from the local boozer.
It’s not only happening in Cork either. In Wexford, people are now becoming used to finding life buoys floating down the river or dumped somewhere else in a tangled mess. It’s probably happening everywhere, and there are other casualties besides the ring buoys.
The city’s first public defibrillator, another valuable life-saving device, was damaged twice in the space of a few hours. It was located on the wall at the entrance to Penneys on Oliver Plunkett Street and was vandalised at a cost of around €2,500 each time.
Recently, the defibrillator was damaged for the seventh time so now it’s being stored inside Penneys, which makes it inaccessible after close of business.
The Mallow Search and Rescue team and the town’s Credit Union installed a defibrillator in the town. Recently, the box containing the equipment was damaged so the defibrillator had to be removed until such a time as the box has been repaired.
Ring buoys and defibrillators are located in public areas for a reason. They are supposed to be easily accessible to the public. There isn’t much point in having these things locked away in a tamper-proof metal cage.
They exist purely for emergency situations when someone’s life is at risk. How is it possible that there are still so many people out there who just don’t get that?
A Bill is before the Seanad which, if implemented, would mean that stealing or damaging life-saving equipment, such as life buoys or defibrillators, could incur a jail term or a fine of up of €50,000. That might help to concentrate the minds of the offenders. Or would it?
I saw a photograph in a recent newspaper of two guys standing side by side on a street in Cork. One had a paint brush in his hand and the other was holding an Irish flag on a small stick. These guys were going around the city painting over the English version of street names and leaving only the Irish name visible.
They described it as “direct action to remove the name of Victoria, the Famine Queen”, from street name signs in Cork.
According to them, the Famine was an act of genocide against the Irish people and they intended the direct civil disobedience to continue. They were proud that they were doing it openly and they took full responsibility for their actions and were prepared to face charges if necessary, to highlight their cause.
In my opinion, these two were insulting the efforts of all those who strive to make the city a better place.
There is enough damage caused to property from natural events like Hurricane Ophelia, without deliberately adding to the destruction ourselves.
But then, there’s no accounting for human nature.
At the height of the hurricane, there were plenty of people who ignored the advice from the authorities to stay indoors. There were some who went swimming and walking on piers, putting their own lives and the lives of others at risk. So, I suppose there will always be those who just don’t get it.
But then, maybe life would be dull without the village idiots.