An escalation in the number of anti-social behaviour incidents within the vicinity of its westside location has resulted in the immediate closure of the Athlone Family Resource Centre at Battery Heights.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week, Fianna Fáil Councillor, Aengus O’Rourke, who is the current Chairman of the Athlone Family Resource Centre, stated that it was with a “heavy heart” that such a drastic measure had to be taken in light of an increase in extreme public disorderly activities.
“Sadly, there have been ongoing open displays of violence in close proximity to the Resource Centre in Battery Heights. Incidents such as the petrol bombing of a car, knife attacks and threats to the staff on site certainly do not have a place in our society and it is for these reasons outlined that we, as a committee, decided to shut the doors at this particular location,” Cllr. O’Rourke stressed.
The Councillor, who has been very outspoken with his views pertaining to the increase in anti-social behaviour on the streets of Athlone, stated that the Resource Centre would be closed for interim, but hopes to re-open the community service at a suitable location on the west side of the town.
“The closure of the Resource Centre is of immense loss to the community within its vicinity who avail of a vast range of services on a daily and weekly basis.
“With the support of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, courses with regard to education and training are a regular occurrence at the facility. Tusla also assist with the establishment and maintenance of new community groups to meet needs and the delivery of services at a local level, for example, namely, childcare facilities and after-school clubs.
“The Athlone Family Resource Centre also supports personal and group development, enhancing leadership within the community,” Cllr. O’Rourke noted.
The Fianna Fáil Councillor confirmed that it was the committee’s intention to have the Family Resource Centre re-open on the west side with planning permission in place at a property close to the Battery Bridge.
“Hopefully, the closure will only be a short term loss to the local community and there will be a successful outcome to the planning permission lodged,” Cllr. O’Rourke stated.
Anti-social behaviour related, the closure of the Athlone Family Resource Centre is a marked stance against such activities, the result of which has given cause to the proposed introduction of a fine to quell drinking in public places.
The proposal was mooted during the November meeting of Athlone Moate Municipal District in direct response to a motion from Cllr. O’Rourke who vociferously called for the introduction of relevant bye-laws to deter ongoing anti-social behaviour.
Unanimously agreed upon by all local authority members, the draft bye-laws will be put to public consultation before their proposed implementation in January 2020.