Westmeath County Council needs to “stand up” to anti-social behaviour according to the Athlone Mayor, Cllr Frankie Keena, who was speaking at the July meeting of the Municipal District about the need to improve signage at Coosan Point.
With the recent spell of good weather, the meeting heard of incidents of public drinking and associated anti-social behaviour at the popular lakeside amenity, and also about the dangerous use of jet skis in the area.
The issue was raised by Cllr John Dolan, who submitted a Motion calling on Athlone-Moate Municipal District to provide improved signage at Coosan Point displaying the bye-laws regarding anti-social behaviour and jet skis.
“I don't want a negative message to go out from this meeting here today, because Coosan Point is a wonderful facility that is widely used by families, but we urgently need to improve the signage clearly stating our bye-laws in relation to the use of jet skis and anti-social behaviour,” said Cllr Dolan.
He added that Lahinch has “huge signs listing every rule and bye-law, and we should have the same.”
The Fine Gael councillor said there is “a major problem” in relation to jet skis coming “dangerously close” to the shoreline at Coosan Point, and he also outlined several recent instances of public drinking and anti-social behaviour in the area.
“If a member of the public rings the Gardai the offenders are long gone by the time they arrive on the scene, so how are we supposed to address issues when they arise out there?” he asked. "We should write to the Gardai as these are Garda matters that are going on out there.”
Cllr Aengus O'Rourke said in the absence of order there are going to be problems and he said there needs to be “a very robust set of bye-laws in place” for all our waterways, including Coosan Point, and they need to be “prominently displayed.”
“We have to put some work into addressing the issue which has been raised by my colleague, Cllr Dolan, here today, and we need to publish the bye-laws sooner rather than later, and we shouldn't wait until there is an accident before we take action,” he said.
District Engineer Pat Nally said Westmeath County Council had been requested by An Garda Siochana in 2016 to put up signs at Coosan Point stating the bye-laws.
“We were given the understanding at the time that the Gardai would police them, but Lough Ree is subject to Inland Waterways bye-laws,” he said.
Cllr Dolan suggested the Municipal District should correspond with Inland Waterways in relation to bye-laws for jet skis, in particular, as the instances of dangerous behaviour by jet ski users is “on the increase”, he claimed.