Limerick playground partially destroyed because of a 'prank that went wrong'

Limerick playground partially destroyed because of a 'prank that went wrong'

Hundreds of children have been left "devastated" after their playground was partly destroyed by fire in a "prank that went wrong", writes David Raleigh.

CCTV footage has been given to gardaí, apparently showing youths burning material which inadvertently led to the fire at a multipurpose play area at the Moyross Millennium Park, Sunday night.

Paddy Flannery, Manager, Moyross Community Enterprise Centre, which also operates the play park, said he did not believe the park was specifically targeted.

"We are taking it very seriously, but we don't believe it was a malicious attack," Mr Flannery said.

"It was kids in the park, playing around on a lovely fine summer's day; someone got involved in something stupid, and it went wrong."

"That's our firm believe...It was more of a prank gone wrong than a malicious attack," he added.

The play area was built in 2000 but underwent major refurbishment in 2011 when the community won the Brennan's Bread sponsored Bring Back Family Playtime Project and received €7,500 funding, as well as €2,000 from a local bingo group.

"Around a hundred kids use it, from twelve months of age to 12 years, and part of their daily activity is to go to the park... so that kids have outdoor activities everyday of the week," Mr Flannery said.

Mr Flannery called on witnesses to make contact with the community centre, or the gardai, adding, any information received would be treated with "strict confidence".

Father of four, Christopher Mallard said: "The kids are devastated, absolutely devastated. We can't believe it."

Mr Mallard, who helps run a local youth club, said: "It was the only safe place around here for the kids to go and play. There's no where else for them to go until this is fixed."

"It was just a prank gone wrong, as far as I know."

Sources had initially believed the fire was started maliciously, however gardai said they believe the fire happened as a result of a prank.

"It was an isolated incident; nothing like this has happened in Moyross in a long, long, time," Mr Mallard added.

Moyross was a magnet for crime and gang shootings and murders during the early 2000s, but with investment and and Regeneration it has managed to put those dark days behind it.

"People work hard everyday to make the community a better place than what it was years ago," Mr Mallard said.

"Everybody here pulls together; It's a great community. We're trying to erase the mistakes of the past and build to a brighter future."

Mr Mallard called on young people in the area to "think about your actions", and the "consequences that fall upon the whole community".

"Silly mistakes bear consequences (for everyone)," he said.

Mother of seven, Janet Quinn, whose youngest daughter Chloe, regularly uses the play park, said: "She was very upset when I told her. You can see (the disappointment) in the kids faces - they love the park."

Mr Flannery said they intend to "fence off" the damaged area for repairs, and hope to reopen the rest of the park later in the week.

Fire control confirmed firefighters responded to the play park fire at 9.58pm, Sunday night. Firefighters extinguished the fire and returned to base at 10.38pm. Fire crews responded to a report of a fire at a separate location in the Moyross area at 12.47am and returned to base at 01.27am. Firefighters also responded to a report of another open fire in Cosgrave Park, Moyross at 01.37am but returned to base at 01.58am when they could not locate said fire.


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