Large gangs of teenagers from Cork City are holding drinking parties at a historic coastal fort in Co Cork, verbally abusing locals and allegedly vandalising parts of the structure.
The allegations have been made by county councillors, who have expressed concern about the influx of youngsters, especially at the weekends, and are seeking ways to protect the fort in Kinsale.
They've asked their officials, in the meantime, to launch a social media campaign to discourage parties at James Fort and to highlight the dangers of consuming alcohol prior to swimming.
Standing orders were suspended at a meeting of the Bandon/ Kinsale Municipal District Council to discuss the serious situation following a request from Kinsale-based Fine Gael councillor Marie O'Sullivan.
She said James Fort “has become party central at the weekends” and gangs of teenagers were coming down from the city after organising the get togethers on social media.
“I'm concerned it's an accident waiting to happen. There's a lot of drinking and carry on. Some youngsters are verbally abusing locals,” Ms O'Sullivan said.
“I'm wondering if we [the council] can do something to say this will not be tolerated."
Fine Gael councillor Kevin Murphy had received similar complaints, including vandalism of the historic site.
“The only way we can ensure no vandalism takes place there is to totally fence it off and open the area only during the day. There are concerns about vandalism. There's also a lot of anti-social behaviour and a lot of litter left behind. There's a lot of broken bottles and burnt-out barbecues,” Mr Murphy said.
He said the OPW is responsible for the fort itself and the council for the land around it.
“They should chip in for the fencing,” he said.
MacDara Ó Hici, the council's senior executive officer for the area, said they would have to be careful about what type of fencing they put up because it would have to fit in with the historic surrounds.
“Getting fencing up there is going to take time. We will see what we can do, but there won't be a quick solution to this,” he said.
At the request of Fine Gael councillor John O'Sullivan, he said he would write to the OPW informing it about the alleged vandalism at the fort.
Construction on the fort started on it in 1602, a year after the British defeated a combined Irish and Spanish force at the Battle of Kinsale. An earlier medieval fortification exists on the site.
Mr Ó Hici said he would also talk to the harbour master to ensure "ring buoys were in place in the area in case there were any issues with young people getting into difficulty in the nearby water".
Ms O'Sullivan also asked that the council to mount its own social media campaign to encourage young people to respect the area. Mr Ó Hici agreed to do this.
Similar scenes of anti-social behaviour have been reported at historic sites in other parts of the country.
To combat this, the OPW and National Monuments Service have come together to launch a campaign, entitled Protect Our Past. They will mount the campaign on social media channels in the coming weeks with a series of animated videos to highlight the impact inappropriate behaviour can have on such sites.