The prospect of Westmeath County Council installing CCTV at any locations along the Greenway has been firmly ruled out, despite reports of increasing incidents of anti-social behaviour on the popular recreational amenity.
The council's Director of Services, Barry Kehoe, told a meeting of Athlone Municipal District this week that the provision of CCTV to assist in the maintenance of law and order along the Greenway “is a matter for the Department of Justice and An Garda Siochana” and he added that law enforcement “is not the job of the local authority.”
Mr Kehoe was responding to a motion from Cllr John Dolan, which called on the council to install CCTV on the stretch of Greenway from Garrycastle to the White Gates. “We are talking about probably 1% of people on the Greenway who commit crime, but it is our duty to ensure that people using this stretch are protected and that homeowners can look after their properties,” said Cllr Dolan.
As well as being “an absolute necessity for public safety” according to Cllr Dolan, CCTV is also needed to protect the council in the event of insurance claims being brought against them.
The Fine Gael Councillor proposed that the council get costings for CCTV and seek funding from the Department of Justice, and he claimed that ducting had been installed along the Greenway for the purposes of having CCTV installed.
Making reference to the recent passing of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) legislation, Cllr Dolan said this had “no role whatsoever” to play in the installation of CCTV as the council would be adequately protected if they deleted all files every 28 days.
Cllr Michael O'Brien described the urban stretches of Greenway in both Moate and Athlone as “the most used” and he claimed that there are increasing reports of “drug taking and drug dealing, gang crime, drinking and intimidation” along the Greenway, and that both CCTV and increased public lighting should be installed “as a matter of urgency.”
Municipal Chairman Cllr Frankie Keena called for a more visible Garda presence along the Greenway and claimed he had never seen a garda in all the times he has used the recreational facility.
“I am disappointed to hear about substantial anti-social behaviour on the Greenway, but I am not prepared to go down the road of installing CCTV, as law enforcement is not the job of the local authority, it is a matter for the Department of Justice and An Garda Siochana, and is not something we can get into in any shape or form,” said the Council's Director of Services, Barry Kehoe.
Referring to the fact that Westmeath County Council has “2,500 miles of public road” to look after and has “no intention of putting CCTV on it”, Mr Kehoe asked councillors “what would the council do with CCTV footage if we had it? Law enforcement is not our job, and we have so many other duties that is is not an area we can get involved in.”
Barry Kehoe said the ducting that was installed along the Greenway “is for CIE use only” and he apologised to members for “seeming to be so negative” about the issue of CCTV, but reiterated that law and order is not the function of the local authority.
A proposal from Cllr Dolan that a letter be sent to the Minister for Justice seeking funding and support for the installation of increased security measures along the Greenway received the unanimous backing of the meeting.