People are living in fear in a Knocknacarra housing estate following a marked escalation in vandalism and antisocial behaviour in the area, a local residents' association claimed this week.
A spokesperson for the White Oaks residents' association says children on their way to school are at "huge risk" of being injured from broken bottles/glasses and discarded syringes from reported drug abuse/dealing in the estate.
They are blaming the Galway City Council for what they say was the creation of a public right of way into White Oaks by the removal of a "permanently" closed gate adjoining the estate and St John the Apostle national school.
This action has had a detrimental effect on this formerly "peaceful" private estate and is a cause of continued fear and concern for the association, it says.
"This [action by the council] is supposed to be part of a plan to route a greenway/walkway through the estate even though the City Development Plan prohibits such walkways being created where there is vehicular traffic.
"As a direct result of the opening up of this access, the implications for our members have reached a critical stage and the position has become intolerable. There is a marked increase in vandalism in our estate. This included:-
• A number of gateway pillars being smashed repeatedly.
• Dog littering on paths and gardens has greatly increased.
• Flowers and shrubs have been damaged.
• Increased levels of noise, shouting, roaring and antisocial behaviour, especially after pub closing hours, with the newly created access being used as a shortcut to and from the pub.
• Marked increase of gangs of teenagers coming into the estate from outside areas and congregating in open spaces.
• Broken glass/bottles and syringes littering the area.
• Ringing of doorbells at antisocial hours.
• Youths looking in windows and trespassing on private property
• Open drug dealing."
In a statement the association says this was a quiet estate previously and is home to many elderly and infirm residents.
"They chose the area as a suitable place to spend their declining years and paid dearly for their houses and the amenities they expected to use and enjoy in a safe, secure, peaceful environment.
"As recently as three weeks ago one resident had the frightening and intimidating experience of having a rock thrown through her sitting room window at 11pm, effectively terrorising the lady in question.
"Gangs of teenagers are using the area as a rat run. On Wednesday last there were 13 teenagers kicking football and hitting cars in the process. We feel that the opening up of White Oaks estate to the greater general public will have a very serious and adverse effect on the personal health and safety of the children attending Knocknacarra primary school. It will pose a risk to children from undesireable elements hovering around the school under the cover of the ill advised greenway/walkway."
The residents' association is seeking a meeting with the council and the Gardai to highlight their concerns.
In a statement, the Galway City Council says it is aware of the issues raised over the years in relation to White Oaks estate.
"The walk-through has always existed between Clybaun Road through to the Galway City Council-owned land which in time will be developed as the Kingston Recreation and Amenity lands. The issues which have been raised by some residents fall outside the direct remit of the Galway City Council and should perhaps be more appropriately directed to an Garda Siochana."
It went on to say that the City Council, through a succession of City Development Plans, including the current plan, has encouraged the maintenance and development of permeability and ease of movement across the city, including the use of greenways and rights of way.