BY JACKIE KEOGH
GARDAÃ have confirmed that the destruction of the beacon sculpture in Schull is being treated as an act of criminal damage.
Supt Brendan Fogarty confirmed that the gardaÃ in Schull drafted in additional manpower from Bantry because they were alerted that between 150 and 200 young people from Cork city were going to descend on Schull for Calves Week.
The Supt confirmed that four local gardaÃ, as well as six additional officers from Bantry, were on duty last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night, in a bid to deal with the influx of young people from the city.
He told The Southern Star that the extra personnel proved to be a very good deterrent because despite the large gathering, the level of criminal activity was minimal.
Supt Fogarty said gardaÃ are conducting enquiries and interviews regarding the destruction of the beacon-shaped sculpture by local artist Carol James.
Sgt James O'Donovan said the gardaÃ were engaged in tackling underage drinking among the 150 to 200 youths who either camped or slept in their cars on Wednesday and Thursday night.
âWe came across underage drinking and dealt with it by seizing the drink from them,' said the sergeant, who indicated that these youths will be dealt with under the Juvenile Diversion Programme.
Although some local people are shocked and upset by the damage to the art work, and the level of rubbish that was strewn around the village, the sergeant said: âWe are very satisfied with the way we policed the situation.' And he said the Council and clean-up crew restored order to the streets early the following morning.
Supt Fogarty confirmed that there were a few arrests for Public Order offences, but he said they have already been dealt with.
Meanwhile, artist Carol James, told The Southern Star: âI am sad about the destruction of the beacon because a huge amount of work went into it over the last three or four years.
âSchull Tidy Towns had asked me to do something for Schull to commemorate the fishing industry, its coastline and its wildlife.'
The work of art â which mirrors the Long Island Beacon that can be seen in the distance â was called Reflections of Schull.
Carol said: âI'm gutted that someone would want to destroy a work of art that was meant to celebrate the village and its people. Lots of people have been approaching me in tears and I feel sad for them.'Â
It is not the first time that a large group of youths have descended on the village, Crookhaven or Barleycove.
In August 2015, the people of Crookhaven were shocked by the behaviour of more than 200 teenagers who âinvaded' their village. And in 2016, Barleycove was left strewn with rubbish after a similar invasion.
One local woman questioned the fact that Schull has become party central for young people.
She told The Southern Star: âUnderage drinking here in Schull is out of control. It has gone beyond a joke. But it is not all down to the guards â the parents should have more control. Why would any 15-year-old be out at 2am or 3am in the morning?'
The local said the youths do not cause a disturbance on the streets. She said it all happens down at the foreshore, a place that has been given the nickname âClub de Pier-o'.
âThis has been going on for years, but it has gone out of control over the last three years. Young people just land down here and think they can do what they like.'
The chairperson of the Schull and District Community Council, Paul Phillips, said: âThis is not caused by the people who live in Schull. On the whole, local teenagers don't smash bottles, they don't vandalise things, they are not bad.Â
âThis is being caused by people that are coming in from outside Schull. A lot of them come down from Cork. It is sad to say that some of them come from well-to-do families from Cork and Dublin. They are getting drunk and trashing the place with broken bottles.'
The chairperson confirmed that âadditional CCTV cameras will be added to cover spots we now realise are not covered'. And another suggestion is to ask the Council to introduce bye-laws to prevent people drinking along the foreshore. âThe best thing that could happen is that the parents of these kids could have a word with them and remind them to respect this area, like they'd respect their own homes.' he added.