Playground gutted after arson attack

by Aisling Kennedy
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A PLAYGROUND in the Gallops in Leopardstown was destroyed on Halloween night when a number of youths set a fire that engulfed the play area.
The fire broke out at about 10.40pm on Saturday night.
One unit of the Dublin Fire Brigade attended the scene and had the fire under control by 11.10pm.
As of yet, no arrests have been made but gardai are following a definite line of enquiry.
Cllr Neale Richmond (FG) spoke to the Gazette and said the fire had devastated the local community.
“The playground is absolutely devastated. It’s ruined. Local residents had to go out the next morning and clean up the mess so it was very hard for them.”
The playground serves an estimated 1,000 people in the area and was frequently used.
Cllr Richmond said: “The playground serves an awful lot of young people and they are left without a play area at the moment because of stupid acts of vandals. A lot of residents are really upset about it. They have been in touch with me and the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.
“I’ve put a motion down straight away [with the council] and I have been talking to [them] about getting repairs done as quickly as possible. It’s quite distressing that someone or a group of youths did this; it’s a very nasty thing to do. It’s the real dark side of Halloween.”
According to Cllr Richmond, gardai have an idea of who the culprits were on the night and are working with local residents to establish if there is any photos of them.
“The gardai are extremely proactive on this so hopefully there will be an arrest soon.”
Cllr Lettie McCarthy (Lab) said she was outraged by the “mindless vandalism”.
She said: “Parents were saddened by the fact that any youngster could engage in this type of destructive and mindless behaviour that directly impacts on innocent little children. As a community, we do not want or welcome this sort of thuggery and hope the offenders will be held to account.”
Many local residents spoke out about their distress at the vandalism on Facebook. The fire was described as “shameful” and “dreadful” by two local residents, while others said they were frightened when they saw the fire. One said: “It was quite scary, the gangs of teenagers that were in the park last night, throwing fireworks at each other and others, taking absolutely no heed of the gardai that were trying to manage the situation. Very sad to see the terrible damage to the playground that so many kids enjoyed every day.”
Another resident said: “Awful. I live there and the gardai were in and out doing their level best. It is a shocking waste of such important resources for the families in the area.”
Some residents questioned why more was not done in the local community to prevent such acts of vandalism.
“But also, why can’t local communities take more preventative measures? Have parents out in these parks and any sign of trouble have them sent packing. It shouldn’t be down to the council to pay to clean up this mess each time.”
Gardai are appealing for anyone with information to contact Dundrum station on 01 6665600.

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