CLAIMS that people have been seen injecting “in broad daylight” as well as “public urination and worse” in an Ennis lane-way have led residents to petition for the closure of a right of way.
The concerns of residents of Dalcassian Park and Upper Turnpike Road were relayed at a meeting of the Ennis Municipal District where it was alleged that anti-social behaviour has been on the increase at the lane-way since a change in management at the Laurel Lodge hostel.
According to Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy 62 out of 67 households closest to the lane-way to the rear of the Turnpike Road have signed the petition urging the council to extinguish the public right of way. She outlined that residents have experienced “ongoing intimidation”, detailing an incident where gardaí had to be called to deal with a number of men drunk and disorderly in the lane.
“This is a very settled community with a lot of older people and they feel very intimidated, they are afraid.”
She said that one resident told her the behaviour they have witnessed in the lane-way is “the worst ever seen there” adding, “injecting has been observed in broad daylight, public urination and worse”.
She said that local residents have commended the efforts of An Garda Siochana in their response, however they feel that limiting access to the lane-way by the council is essential to curbing anti-social behaviour.
According to residents there has been an “intensification of anti-social behaviour” in recent months, with the management of Laurel Lodge taken over by Mid West Simon from the St Vincent de Paul, she outlined.
Responding to the motion to close the lane-way, Eamon O’Dea, Senior Executive Engineer, stated, “Ennis MD are aware of intermittent anti-social behaviour at the rear vehicular access lane for houses on Turnpike Road and Dalcassian Park adjacent to the pedestrian access point at Dalcassian Drive.
“The Ennis MD Street Cleaning Crews have previously attended at this location with the road sweeper to clean up debris and litter following anti-social activity. An Garda Siochana local patrols check this location also.
“The closure of, or providing for, a secure access gate on a pedestrian lane requires an extinguishment of a public right of way.
“Ennis MD are not aware of any specific petition or plebiscite requesting the closure of the pedestrian lane onto the public road at the rear of the properties. It should be noted that the extinguishment of the public right of way would not be in line with Government Policies on “10 minute towns” and pedestrian connectivity.”
Councillor Colleran Molloy questioned, “What’s the point in having a lane-way if it is not being used because of anti-social behaviour.”
The motion was supported by Councillor Paul Murphy. Councillor Johnny Flynn commented that a “very dangerous situation has evolved”.
He recalled that as a member of the Ennis Town Council when planning permission was being discussed for Laurel Lodge there was an understanding this would be a ‘low dependency’ hostel for people who did not have serious addiction problems.
He said Clare County Council need to address the matter with Mid West Simon and an “urgent review” of the contract is required.
Councillor Mary Howard commented that the location is “not ideal for a wet hostel”, adding, “this is very unfair on residents to expect them to put up with this tyupe of behaviour. This could be a very serious issue in a short space of time.”
Councillor Pat Daly stated, “The people there have put up with enough”. Councillor Mark Nestor said, “This is a serious issue”, saying a number of agencies need to be brought in to discuss how to move forward.
“The residents are living in a very quiet area and they don’t need to be dealing with this.”
Councillor Colleran Molloy concluded by saying an holistic approach is needed.
Reluctance to extinguishing the right of way due to its importance for connectivity was expressed by the council executive.
However, Director of Service Carmel Kirby agreed to liaise with the Director of Social Development in relation to the concerns raised at the meeting, and efforts are to be made to liaise with the management of Laurel Lodge, the results of which will be reported back to the elected members.