€100,000 CCTV bill for monitoring two estates and halting site

The Fana Glas estate

It cost Galway City Council €100,000 last year to monitor security camera footage at the Carrowbrowne halting site and two of its estates in Ballybane.

There are nine CCTV systems provided by seven providers on behalf of the Council throughout the city installed to prevent anti-social behaviour and crime, thwart illegal dumping and protect Council assets, staff and members of the public.

Head of IT at Galway City Council Alfie Jones told councillors that it was costing €100,185 to actively monitor cameras at the Carrowbrowne halting site on the Headford Road and the Fana Glas and Sliabh Rua estates on the east side.

Nearly €62,000 was being doled out for a monitoring service on cameras erected at the Council’s vacant properties which are being refurbished for new tenants.

Over €14,000 had been spent between erecting cameras and monitoring them at the former Galway Airport. More than €10,000 had been spent on internally checking traffic cameras.

Fine Gael Councillor Frank Fahy said tenants were paying an average of €20 rent a week at Carrowbrowne yet the Council was spending thousands per family on the cameras.

Independent Cllr Collette Connolly said she was one of the councillors who had opposed the CCTV due to its cost and that it only served to move trouble elsewhere. She demanded to know how many times the footage had been used to bring someone to account.

“We spent €1.2m on cameras in Hillside [halting site in Ballybane] and had to spend thousands and thousands on removing rubbish from under the cameras. There’s no camera working in Carn Ard [in the Westside] and there are bonfires up there continuously every year,” she exclaimed.

“Fana Glas – everyone knows it was a bloody dump, yet there were CCTV cameras . . . we put in cameras at huge expense but they’re not monitored What’s the point? €100,000 for cameras at Carrowbrowne and look at the state of it? What are we at?”

Fianna Fáil’s Peter Keane said what was obscene in his eyes is that the Council have to spend such huge sums on security cameras.

“Who do you think interferes with it in these sites? I think CCTV is of huge benefit. My information is it was used at bottle banks to secure prosecutions for illegal dumping.”

Independent Cllr Donal Lyons asked why there was no working cameras at the Galway City Museum, where windows were recently damaged.

“One window alone cost €19,000. It would have paid the Council to have working cameras there.”

Mr Jones said new community CCTV schemes, for which there was a maximum grant of €40,000 available under a 2017 scheme worth €1 million, were on hold until clarification was received about the new data regulations in force from May 25 which may prove too onerous on those running the scheme.

A motion by Cllr Connolly to change the age of digital consent under the data protection guidelines from 13 to 16 was passed.