Action demanded on discarded drug needles and anti-social behaviour

Discarded drugs paraphernalia at 'The Plots' in Woodquay, including a syringe, spoons and sterile water used for heroin injection. PHOTO: ENDA CUNNINGHAM

Litter, drug needles and vandalism of trees are destroying the enjoyment of parks on the east side of the city.

That’s the assertion of city councillor Noel Larkin, who believes the Council are not doing enough to thwart anti-social behaviour in the valuable public spaces available for residents.

Trees were “butchered” in Terryland Forest Park. The cuttings have been strewn about for over a month despite calls to the Council for a clean-up.

“This tranquil walkway has become a scene of mass destruction. This is a vast area and frequently used by walkers, dog-owners, children and the elderly from a lot of nearby estates and communities,” he fumed.

“There was a serious element of drug dealing in the past in areas of this park which was successfully eradicated after our complaints. Now, there is serious dumping going on here.”

It prompted one visiting good Samaritan to organise her own litter-pick last Thursday.

French student Alice Roy, who was staying in Riverside during her studies, was so appalled by the condition of the park that she put up posters in the area to mobilise volunteers to pick up the “awful waste”

The poster read: “Who is feel (sic) bad to see garbage in this pretty little public park?”

Remarked Cllr Larkin: “She is heading back to France in a few weeks with this impression of our beautiful City. Galway City Council need to take more stringent action on illegal dumping throughout the City.”

During February, the Independent representative said he had reports of drugs paraphernalia and substantial litter under trees in the public park at Castle Park.

“This litter is gathered once or twice a week by local volunteers and includes used and unused drugs and needles, tablets and condoms. There are also reports of these trees providing a safe haven for sexual activity as well as drug- taking and anti-social behaviour,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

“I duly notified the City Council and insisted that urgent action be taken – either the trees were to be fenced off or cut down completely. Being conscious of the bird-nesting season starting at the beginning of March, I was hoping for immediate action to be taken, but one month on, nothing has been done.

“This pitch is also being invaded by stray horses on a regular basis, and although Galway City Council officials have been following up on this, these invasions occur mostly at weekends when there are no officials about.

“These amenities – park, pitch and clubhouse – were built for the community, are maintained by a number of volunteers, used by many youth organisations and are being destroyed by a few unscrupulous people.

“It’s time to get tough on these offenders whose sole intent appears to be self-gain at the expense of the whole community.”

A spokesman for Galway City Council said there was an ongoing issue in relation to the dumping of needles.

“The guards and ourselves are aware of it. There is a protocol to deal with drugs paraphernalia, in particular needs. There was a commitment by the guards that out of hours the Gardaí would have a sharps box in the squad car, but I’m not sure where that stands at the minute.”