'We need a park ranger in Darndale or our efforts will have gone to waste'
A GROUP of volunteers have started to campaign for a park ranger in Darndale.
The Darndale Park Renewal Project began working to fix up the area two years ago.
Locals meet regularly to collect any rubbish and have lobbied the council and other groups for funding.
They have managed to secure money for several projects including fencing and improvements in the playground.
Most recently they were awarded €10,000 from the St Stephen's Green Trust for new playground equipment.
Susan French, one of the residents in the group, told the Herald that a park ranger would solve the problems that are still plaguing the park.
"We have done so much work and it's taken a long time," she said. "Now we fear that all of this time and money is going to waste."
People are using the park as somewhere to race quads and bikes, according to Ms French.
There is also a problem with people leaving horses tethered in the area.
"We really need a presence in the park to deter this type of activity," she said.
Through the work of the project, improved fencing was installed around the park but Ms French said that, due to accessbility rules, it is not enough to keep horses and small vehicles out.
The park is also the site of the training ground for Darndale Football Club. Upgrades are planned for the club's facilities which it is hoped will include an all-weather facility.
Garreth Byrne, Darndale FC secretary, said that they've had trouble in the park with regards to pitches being ruined.
"One time a car got in through the back entrance of the park and drove all over the three pitches - the field was in bits," he said.
"We didn't realise until we came along on the Saturday to play our match. We've had to call off a lot of games because of the pitch being destroyed.
"If they were to get a park warden it would be ideal if it were someone from the area who knows the people, who has worked in the local community."
Last year the group hosted a family day in the park which attracted hundreds of people.
However, they now fear that due to the ongoing issues it won't be safe to organise a similar event for this summer.
"It's very frustrating, it feels like we are taking two steps forward and one step back," Ms French said.
Local People Before Profit councillor John Lyons has been working with the group to try and secure a warden for the park.
He will table a motion at the upcoming council meeting asking that DCC install a ranger which "would transform the park's fortunes".
"A key factor in the recurrence of some of the park's problems is the lack of a physical presence of workers in the park," it continues.
"[The workers] could provide a sense of safety and security whilst assisting with local events and clubs, carrying out some basic work.
"The park should be for everyone," he told the Herald.