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Calls for action to solve ‘ongoing anti-social behaviour’ problems at former Laois shopping centre

A Laois County Councillor has called for action to be taken to solve what he says are ‘ongoing anti-social behaviour’ problems at the site of a former Laois shopping centre.

The old Centrepoint site on the Mountrath Road was the focus of a motion by Fine Gael Councillor Willie Aird at a Portlaoise Municipal District meeting this week.

Once a hive of activity, Centrepoint Shopping Centre has been  completely vacant for a number of years.

It once had Shaws, Gings, a supermarket, a furniture shop, a hairdresser and a restaurant as well as a service station.

One of the first shopping centres to come to Portlaoise, Centrepoint, according to Mr Aird, has become a hive for anti-social behaviour.

He explained: “I am blue in the face taking calls from people about what is going on down there.

“I cannot understand why the building cannot be fenced off.

“The Gardai are very good at responding to incidents but I think the Council have a responsibility to do something too.

“Are we going to allow this to continue for years and what if something really serious happens?

“I have seen children up on the roof of the building and fires lit inside. It is not good enough and something has to change.”

Echoing Cllr Aird’s sentiments, Cllr Noel Tuohy said it was important to remember that a lot of people lived in that area too and anti-social behaviour is not fair on them.

In reply, Director of Services Donal Brennan said he believed that anti-social behaviour of that nature is a matter for Gardai.

He said: “In general to the extent that anti-social behaviour involves littering or noise it is open to the Environmental section to investigate on foot of specific notified complaints.

“To the extent that anti-social behaviour involves threats, intimidation, aggressiveness or similar actions, such actions would fall outside of the remit of the environment section or other enforcement sections of the Council and most likely would involve An Garda Siochana or other authorities.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.