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‘We may as well turn them off’ – Anger as data protection renders CCTV scheme in Laois ‘a waste of money’

Data protection regulations have led to anger over how they are impacting upon a CCTV scheme in a Laois town.

Fianna Fail Councillor Paddy Bracken informed a recent Joint Policing Committee meeting of what has happened in Mountmellick.

After years of fundraising, the cameras were purchased and then after more years of legalities, they were eventually switched on.

However, GDPR has meant that the cameras are not, according to Cllr Bracken, being used as they were intended.

He said: “Masking is going on – all of the images are being blurred out.

“We may as well switch them off to be honest with you. This is now a waste of public funds.

“After all of the effort to raise money that people went through, they now feel like they may as well have not bothered.

“Yet on Main Street in Portlaoise, Gardai have a system that works. It makes no sense.”

There are 13 such schemes in the works Laois and there is, according to Cllra James Kelly and Caroline Dwane-Stanley, considerable concern among the other 12 following what has happened in Mountmellick.

Director of Services Donal Brennan explained why ‘masking’ is taking place.

He said: “The cameras are permitted to record in public places but not in private places.

“So, the footpath could be in a public place but it may show part of a house. So therefore you have to mask out the footpath as well as the house.

“The technology to just blur out certain parts does not exist just yet.”

Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley and Chief Superintendent John Scanlan explained how a Bill to legislate for this is progressing through the various stages at present.

Deputy Brian Stanley said: “You would think that these are designed nearly so they won’t work.

“We have been asking people to fundraise to make this work and now they are feeling deflated.

“The Bill is sitting with Minister Eamon Ryan and I will put pressure on him to do this.”

It was agreed that the Council would also write to the Minister for an update.

SEE ALSO – Tributes paid as long-serving Laois Chief Superintendent Scanlan attends final public meeting

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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.