Only adults accompanying children 12 years of age or younger will be allowed into playgrounds in Co Cork as part of an attempt to prevent paedophiles hanging around such amenities.
New bylaws which the local authority hopes to introduce next year also prohibit anybody ‘unless part of a visiting family unit’ from operating a camera, camera phone, video, etc, in playgrounds and skateboard parks in the county.
The council has also decided to prohibit a number of other activities in such amenities, including smoking.
Council officials said that the bylaws would be policed by the gardaí and their own authorised staff and they also envisaged that local communities would have an input.
Cllr Paula Desmond (Lab), chairman of the council’s special purposes committee which drew up the bylaws, said they were essential to prevent anti-social behaviour.
She said they would first be rolled out in North Cork as a pilot project and then become the norm throughout the rest of the county during 2014.
Tom Stritch, director of services, said the council would advertise the 36 bylaws in newspapers next Friday. He said there would then be a period of public consultation up to Dec 20 and submissions from the public will be taken up to Jan 10 next.
Mr Stritch said he expected that by next February the bylaws would be finalised and could then be enacted.
The mayor of County Cork, Cllr Noel O’Connor, said he welcomed news that they would soon be introduced and urged the public to familiarise themselves with the draft bylaws which can be purchased for €2.
Cllr Deirdre Forde (FG) proposed that a hotline number be advertised at every playground and skateboard park so people could report bylaw breaches.
Cllr Ronan Sheehan (Lab) said he wanted an amendment to the bylaws which state that children over 12-years-of age are not to be allowed in playgrounds. He said there were many special needs children in their late teens who currently enjoy such facilities and didn’t want them deprived.
Daubing graffiti in playgrounds and skateboard parks will also be an offence. However, Cllr Derry Canty (FG) said that children had actually been encouraged to put their own “artistic” graffiti at the skateboard park in Ballincollig.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) urged council officials to install CCTV cameras in all such amenities as an added deterrent to anti-social behaviour.
Mr Stritch said the council didn’t have the money to do that, but said if the situation arose in a particular amenity which warranted their installation the bylaws would allow the council to do so.
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