A MIDDLE-AGED man’s eye socket and ankle were broken in a shocking attack by up to 15 youths in Ballylinan.
The victim was walking home from a pub with a friend around midnight when both were set upon by a gang, who had gathered in the town’s playground.
Aged in his 50s, the man is still receiving medical treatment as an outpatient at St James’s Hospital in Dublin, following the frightening attack a few weeks ago. His injuries included a fractured eye socket just below the eye, facial bruising and a broken ankle. His male friend was also attacked but escaped with minor injuries.
The horrific assault was highlighted at the latest meeting of Graiguecullen-Portarlington Municipal District by cllr Ben Brennan, who appealed for more lighting to be installed in the playground because of ongoing anti-social behaviour. There is only one lamp standard in the playground.
Cllr Brennan said: “I know people who have been attacked and hurt there. One man was in hospital after a very serious assault, when he suffered a broken ankle and a fracture under his eye after a gang ran out from the playground and attacked him. The playground should be either lit up or closed down, as it is utterly dangerous at the moment.”
In a written response, sports and leisure officer Anne Marie Maher said the council did not intend to install more lighting. She said the council received reports of anti-social behaviour in the Ballylinan playground and would discuss the issue with gardaí but the office did not receive any reports of assaults.
Director of services Gerry Murphy added that the council was not in favour of more lighting, as it could encourage young people to gather in the playground. He commented: “It would cause people to congregate there at night because they have nowhere else to go.”
Cllr Brennan declared that the council’s response was not good enough. He felt road lighting that would shine into the playground would have to be installed for public safety.
He said: “People are going to congregate there anyway, so it should be lit up. At least if there was a light you would see something. The men who were attacked could not see this group before they were assaulted.”
He was supported by cllr John Moran, who pointed out that a request for extra lighting was made when the playground was built so local people were waiting a long time.
Cllr Pádraig Fleming said public lighting on the road outside was needed rather than in the playground, as the two men were walking on the road when they were attacked by a group that came out of the playground. Cllr Fleming recalled that he rang three separate garda stations following the assault and gardaí were fully aware of what happened. He said: “It was dark and they came out from the playground onto the road and assaulted these men. One of the two was seriously injured and ended up in hospital. These people congregate in the playground but it is the road that needs more lighting.”
Mr Murphy said there would be no problem installing more lights on the road outside and the council would examine the issue. However, cllr Brennan was adamant that extra lighting was also needed in the playground.