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‘Give the children in Ballyspillane something to do’

It has been suggested that Ballyspillane has never had an opportunity to mature like other estates because the council is constantly moving in young families

A long-time resident of the Ballyspillane estate in Killarney, where serious anti-social problems persist, has called on the local council and other relevant bodies to provide proper facilities and activities that will keep the children involved occupied and away from the temptation to get up to no good.

The repeated problem of young people throwing stones, eggs and other objects at passing vehicles, from behind a grove of trees at the entrance to the estate, was highlighted at a meeting of Killarney Municipal District Council with fears expressed that it will lead to somebody being seriously injured or killed.

The meeting heard that it is now a major problem, particularly during the winter months, with anti-social behaviour becoming increasingly prevalent.

Cllr John O’Donoghue said he has raised the matter with An Garda Síochána and while they acknowledge that it is a problem, they don’t have the resources to monitor the area 24 hours a day.

He said on the rare occasions they do manage to catch some of the offenders, they are too young to do anything with except take them home where, very often, the children tell their parents they didn’t throw anything and there the matter ends.

The trees on the road at the entrance Ballyspillane which provide screening for those throwing objects at passing vehicles

In response to coverage of that council meeting, concerned Ballyspillane resident, Mike O’Brien, contacted KillarneyToday.com and stressed that the estate has over 200 houses and hundreds of children and the problems are being caused by a handful of maybe seven or eight individuals.

“I’ve seen them at first hand in action. The behaviour is unacceptable, especially when it comes to throwing items and stones at passing cars. I don’t condone this and I don’t think anybody does for a split second,” he remarked.

But, Mr O’Brien said, Ballyspillane has never had an opportunity to mature like other estates in the town because the council is constantly moving in young families.

A resident in the estate for over 20 years, he said he has spoken to the children involved in the anti-social behaviour on many occasions and the reply he always receives is that they are bored and have nothing to do.

When asked why they don’t join football or soccer clubs, they claim they are sidelined and treated differently and, if they’re not good at the sport, they are not treated with respect.

The Ballyspillane community and family resource centre

He said many of the children in the estate were very actively involved in a boxing club run in the town, with qualified coaches bringing out the best in them, but that no longer exists because a proper and affordable premises can’t be found.

Mr O’Brien said there had been a basketball court and a soccer pitch in Ballyspillane but they are no longer there and a great part of the estate’s community and resource centre is occupied by a crèche.

“If there was a youth club or a boxing club within the estate that could raise awareness of the dangers of certain actions and, in the process, incorporate discipline,” he said.

“Every single town in Ireland has a boxing club and youth club for kids that aren’t good at football or soccer and having a boxing club generates dedication to the sport and fitness because of local and national competitions throughout the year.

Gardai at the entrance to Ballyspillane. They say they don’t have the resources to monitor the area 24 hours a day.

“It gives kids something to look forward to and keeps them out of trouble. After training for a few hours in the evenings all they want to do is go home to bed,” the Ballyspillane resident stated.

“It is a known fact that any large town or city that has an area with large or high volumes of kids, a minority is going to be lead astray and become a nuisance within the community if they aren’t involved in activities.

“There are absolutely no schemes or programmes available to the kids from marginalised backgrounds in the Ballyspillane area,” Mr O’Brien added.

He said he fully understands that what they are doing is dangerous and absolutely wrong but, for an estate with so many children, there is absolutely no activity for them within the community.

Mr O’Brien has asked Killarney Municipal District Council and other statutory bodies to take the lead in providing activities for young people and he is confident that it will help to tackle the anti-social issues.

“The council and the relevant bodies will have to take part responsibility for what’s going on because children will become problematic when they don’t have an activity to keep them focused. Give the children in Ballyspillane something to do,” he said.

Killarney Municipal District Engineer, John Ahern, told this week’s council meeting, at which the anti-social problem was raised, that the anti-social behaviour issue would be raised at the next meeting of the Ballyspillane community inter-agency committee in February while a CCTV system earmarked for the estate might also have a part to play.