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“INJECTING has been observed in broad daylight in addition to public urination and worse,” at a laneway adjacent to the rear of the Turnpike Rd in Ennis, a county councillor has claimed.
Calls to extinguish the public right of way on the laneway were issued by Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) at this week’s meeting of the Ennis Municipal District. She cited the “numerous petitions” submitted by residents of Dalcassian Park and Upper Turnpike Rd plus the “ongoing intimidation” they have experienced”.

Senior executive engineer in the Ennis MD, Eamon O’Dea said they were aware of “intermittent anti-social behaviour” at the rear vehicular access lane for houses on Turnpike Rd and Dalcassian Park adjacent to the pedestrian access point at Dalcassian Drive. Local Garda patrols are monitoring the area, he said.

O’Dea explained that the MD were unaware 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, he added.

A petition with 62 signatures of residents from the 67 houses closest to the laneway was then presented by Cllr Colleran Molloy to the meeting’s administrator. Problems of anti-social behaviour have intensified since November, she said. An incident on May 8 where eight to nine men were “drunken, disorderly and abusive” required four Gardaí and “the wagon” to be called while on May 31 at 11pm, four men were “roaring and shouting,” the Quin native outlined.

She continued, “What some of you may not realise, this is a very settled community with a lot of older people living here, they feel very intimated, they afraid to use the lane. The feedback is that behaviour is the worst they have ever seen there”.

According to the Ballybeg based representative, “injecting has been observed in broad daylight in addition to public urination and worse”. She made reference to Laurel Lodge, the facility established on the Clare Road in 2009 as a homeless shelter. “The Spar shop has barred some users from alcohol purchases but they are still being served at other locations in the town. The duty of care to Laurel Lodge residents needs to be looked at, is there a failure causing anti-social behaviour?”

Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) seconded the proposal with Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) describing the evolving situation as “very dangerous”. Laurel Lodge had been intended to be a low dependency hostel primarily for single men, he said but felt recently its residents were “behaving in a chaotic way”. Flynn added, “there is an onus on the County Council to review the contract that is there. I don’t think there is planning permission or structure to deal with type of client that is there”.

Laurel Lodge had been “extremely well run” by St Vincent de Paul, Cllr Mary Howard (FG) acknowledged. “It has become a wet hostel. I don’t know what the solution will be. There can be some of the clients or residents with an element of violence towards staff, it is not ideal location for a wet hostel. It is very unfair to expect that they put up with this behaviour. It could be a serious issue in quite a period of time”.

According to Cllr Pat Daly (FF), the hostel “was built in the wrong place”. He claimed that the Gardaí knew of the ongoing “drink and drug parties”. Numerous agencies need to be brought in, Cllr Mark Nestor (FF) stressed, “the residents of Dalcassian Park live in a lovely quiet area and they most certainly do not need to deal with this”.

Director of Service, Carmel Kirby told the meeting that she did not want to target Laurel Lodge but acknowledged the complaints from local residents. She said she would be slow to extinguish the right of way but would speak with Anne Haugh, Director of Social Development to see if a conversation would be had with Laurel Lodge management.

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