Cllr Gerry Warnock
There have been calls for Longford County Council to secure the boundary between Farneyhoogan Estate and the Royal Canal walkway in an effort to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area, which is causing anxiety to residents in the estate.
Bringing a motion before last week’s meeting of Longford Municipal District, Cllr Gerry Warnock explained that the deterioration of the hedgerow between the estate and the canal walk has turned into a “rat run” that has resulted in “an exponential growth in anti-social activity in the area at great annoyance and distress to some of the more vulnerable residents”.
Cllr Warnock suggested a combination of durable fencing and native hedgerow planting as a solution.
“What I’m suggesting is a short term solution,” he told his MD colleagues.
“I certainly think we have to look at a long term solution for this. That solution may form part of the destination towns project for the rear of the Market Square entering onto the canal.
“We literally have drug distribution points now in front of OPD houses where you have drug dealers pulling up in cars, servicing buyers and addicts from the other side of town who are making their way via that rat run.
“I think it may be prudent to maybe refer this to the next JPC meeting, that we might be able to bring it up as a special item, and get the opinion of the superintendent at the meeting, because I know it’s causing an awful lot of angst to the elderly people who are living in those houses, where they’re seeing this activity on a weekly and, indeed, sometimes a daily basis.”
Chairperson of the Joint Policing Committee, Cllr Semaus Butler agreed that the issue should be tackled and said it could go on the agenda for Monday’s JPC meeting.
“I’ve had a lot of complaints from mainly the older population who have been mithered with youths throwing stones, grouping in groups of ten or 12 together, no social distancing or anything like that,” he said.
“I think there is a policing element to it. If we can get at least some secure fencing in the short term, that could alleviate it but there is a policing element there because they can come in under the railway track just as easily and you can’t block that off because that’s pedestrian access into town.”
At the JPC meeting, Longford Superintendent Jim Delaney addressed the issue, saying gardaí would be happy to offer whatever assistance they can.
“We’re hoping to extend the reach of Operation Pheonix and we have endeavoured to get some mountain bikes around the canal,” he said.
Cllr Butler said that garda assistance would be very welcome as there is “an upsetting pattern of groups of teenagers” gathering in various locations and causing concern to elderly people.
“They’ve almost become feral,” he said.