FRESH calls have been made for wardens in Letterkenny town park following the assault of three male youths by a gang of six at the weekend.
The three were playing football in the park on Saturday shortly after 8.35pm when they were approached by five or six male youths who began assaulting them.
One of the victims sustained injury, which is not believed to be life-threatening.
It is the latest incident in as many weeks, after a man was punched to the ground at the entrance of Letterkenny town park by up to seven male youths. He received further punches when he was on the ground.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Mayor of Letterkenny-Milford Municipal District Cllr Jimmy Kavanagh said he was appalled by attack. Just last April, Cllr Kavanagh implored Donegal County Council to employ park wardens after a number of unsavoury incidents. His calls had been backed by Cllr Ciaran Brogan. However, in response, a Council official had said a private security firm was appointed to monitor the park during out-of-hours, with a complement of maintenance staff working in the park during normal working hours.
He said he will once again be raising the issue as a matter of urgency. He said the park has seen much positive development and he would not like to see anything tarnish that good work.
“The town park is so widely used, I think there needs to be community garda or wardens patrolling it. I had previously called for wardens over the summertime and it was dismissed out of hand.
“I will be asking again about wardens and the possibility of additional CCTV. I think there have been too many similar incidents in the one area now and it merits re-looking at what can be done, particularly given the positive developments taking place in the area. We don’t want the park to get a bad name.
“One of the reasons why the new adventure park was first mooted was because the area had been troublesome in the past.”
Cllr Kavanagh said it was unfair to leave maintenance staff in a potentially vulnerable situation if an incident arose while they were working in the park. He suggested retired gardaí could facilitate the idea.
“There are plenty of retired guards, ex army and responsible people who could be called upon to do a few hours a day.”
Cllr Kavanagh said he plans to raise the issue for the third time at the next Letterkenny-Milford Municipal District meeting.
Chairman of Donegal Joint Policing Committee, Cllr Gerry McMonagle said the rise in assaults has been a pressing issue for the JPC’s steering committee.
“There has been an increase in assaults locally. Now that we are coming out of Covid we need a bigger presence of gardaí on the street and in areas of recreation where people go to enjoy walks. People should feel protected.”
Cllr McMonagle also raised the need for more CCTV previously, but he said that while it acts as a deterrent, having a visible garda presence is better.
“There’s an initiative down the country whereby a garda will sit on a park bench or in an area of recreation. They are visible to be approached by anyone who has any concerns. It’s something that I would like the JPC to adopt here.”
Gardaí have launched an investigation into the weekend incident and are appealing to anyone who was in or around the town park between 8pm and 9pm on the date in question, and who may have observed the group of youths to contact them at Letterkenny Garda Station on (074) 91 67100. Anyone with dashcam footage which captured the youths is also urged to make it available to gardaí.
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