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Sunday 4 December 2016

'Ban camping to deter anti-social acts' - cafe boss

Shirley O’Kelly, manager of The Country Store and Cafe near the Hell Fire Club in Dublin
Shirley O’Kelly, manager of The Country Store and Cafe near the Hell Fire Club in Dublin

A local business has called for a ban on camping at the Hell Fire Club following the vicious knife attack on three innocent teens at the popular beauty spot.

The Hell Fire Club is mostly used as a popular place for hill walkers. However, some camping takes place, especially on summer evenings, and people have engaged in drinking and lighting bonfires around the historical building.

Following Monday's violence, Shirley O'Kelly, who manages the local Country Store and Cafe at the family-run Timbertrove sawmills and shop, called for a ban on camping at the site to discourage any potential anti-social activity.

"We've been here for 30 years, and in fairness there hasn't been any trouble in the past," she said.

"You get people up there drinking and staying the night, but I think that should be stopped so that the many hillwalkers and people who exercise their dogs can do so in peace."

Ms O'Kelly said she would be concerned about the damage another violent incident would cause.

"I wouldn't like to see a situation where it would happen again and then people might be afraid to use the mountains for leisure or recreation," she said. "So I think if a camping ban would help stop any anti-social activity it would be good."

Ms O'Kelly also said that it was fortunate someone was able to phone for an ambulance from the summit of the mountain.

"The phone signal has always been patchy up there until relatively recently," she said.

"Thank God the injuries weren't too serious or the person wasn't on their own or this could have been much worse.

"We do see the gardai up and down the road here, but we don't know if they go up into the forest roads or not."

The car park for the Hell Fire Club is on the route to another famous viewing point in the mountains, Kilakee, close to where Graham Dwyer is believed to have stabbed Elaine O'Hara to death in September 2013.

It is also not far from where the body of Ken Fetherston (27), from Tallaght, was found in January 2010 after he had been reported missing in September 2009. He had been shot.

The Coillte forestry company had not responded to a request for comment by the Herald last night.

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