By Dionne Meehan
A LETTERKENNY councillor fears funding for park wardens will be “a big ask” amid reports of another incident at the town’s Bernard McGlinchey Town Park earlier this week.
Cllr. Gerry McMonagle said families should not be afraid to visit the town’s popular parks, but said park wardens are now needed.
His comments come after a local mother this week urged parents to be vigilant after she observed a man lurking behind some branches in the park this week.
It follows an incident earlier this month when it was claimed a man offered a child a bar of chocolate.
Taking to the popular Facebook page ‘Letterkenny Babies’, the mother issued a warning to other parents after her son showed her a pile of sweets and a note left at the top of one of the slides in the play area.
The note read “for kids, from Santa”.
This week’s incident came after a mother, who was in the town to attend a hospital appointment, took her daughter to play in the park afterwards.
Noticing a man standing behind some branches at the side of the old St. Conal’s Café, the mother said initially she didn’t think much of it.
“I thought nothing of it as he appeared to be talking on the phone,” she said.
“But, as time went on he was still standing there, no longer talking on the phone.
“It just felt very strange.”
Keeping a close eye on the man, the mother said she kept looking up at him and he reacted suspiciously.
“I kept looking up and he’d put the head down or turn around,” she said.
“I decided to leave the park around 40 minutes later and he was still there when I left.”
Whilst reporting the incident to Gardaí, the mother was told it wasn’t the first reporting of its kind that day.
Speaking to the Donegal News, a Garda spokesperson said Gardaí responded to reports in the Bernard McGlinchey Park area of Letterkenny on September 25 at approximately 12pm.
“There was no persons at the scene upon arrival,” a spokesperson said.
At last week’s meeting of the Letterkenny and Milford Municipal District, an emergency motion was discussed during which Donegal County Council was urged to source funding to employ park wardens for the park to restore the public’s confidence in the safety of the park.
However, Cllr Gerry McMonagle believes this could be a big ask due to the current economic climate.
“We will certainly be talking to the area manager about raising it at next week’s budget meeting to see if we can make provision for park wardens to be deployed,” Cllr. McMonagle said.
“It is going to be a big ask in the current climate the way money is, but, we are determined to keep raising this issue and looking at ways and means of identifying a budget where we can put permanent wardens in the parks.”
Addressing the most recent report, Cllr McMonagle described the incident as “concerning”.
“We just can’t have parents being worried every time they go to the park with their children.
“We certainly don’t want people to lose confidence in our parks as we have invested too much into them.
“We need park wardens and that’s what I think we should continue to work towards,” he said.