A young mother has called on the local authority to provide CCTV cameras or a patrol person to watch over Mullingar’s newest children’s park after weeks of vandalism at the facility.
The woman has witnessed at first hand a teenager writing on a piece of playground equipment, and has described how used condoms were discovered in the playground where children regularly play.
The mother, who does not wish to be named, was informed by a member of council staff, who was caring out spot checks last week, that since the long-awaited playground opened a month ago, a swing was broken, netting has been damaged, and the fencing around the toddlers' area has been pulled down. It is understood that a signature piece of equipment for the playground may not now be installed as a result of the vandalism.
The Mullingar parent, whose children are aged one and two years old, also said that gangs of teenagers often congregate in the playground. In one instance a number of young males were sitting on a child's seat and only left the children’s playground when approached by the woman's husband and two other men. “As a young mother I wouldn’t be able to approach a group of young lads,” she said.
“We were waiting for this playground a long time. The day it finally opened it was packed. A lot of people get so much enjoyment out of it. It is a much needed facility for children and mothers. You get such satisfaction seeing your child laughing and giggling. It gives me a sense of belonging as I try to build up a new network of friends,” the young mother said.
“The public park is a lifeline. You can meet your friends and it is somewhere you can bring your children. They are out in the fresh air and are not stuck in front of the television watching rubbish. For me as a mother, I feel that I have issues that are normal because I hear about them from other mothers, and we have something in common,” she said.
Mullingar Town Cllr Ken Glynn has condemned anti-social behaviour and vandalism in the childrens' playground in the town's public park, which only opened in recent weeks.
Cllr Glynn vowed to write to Westmeath County Council's director of services for Mullingar to see if the community warden could be deployed to visit the playground. Cllr Glynn, who campaigned for the playground, urged parents who notice anti-social behaviour like graffiti to report it to the relevant authorities so that a littering prosecution can be taken.