Being a Community Warden in Athenry 2003

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Standing: Christy Coffey, Tony Kilcommons, ………….. , Philip Farrell, Tadhg Costello, Stephanie O’Regan, Thomas Cheevers, Leo Coffey, Gerry Ahern, Tommy Quinn, Peter Feeney

Front: Des Glynn, Johnny Delaney, ………… , Shane Coogan

The Community Warden Scheme was established on the 12th February 2002 by Galway County Council which, according to the Department of the Environment, was targeted at “building better communities”, and the Wardens were declared as the “eyes and ears” of the local authority.

Initially much emphasis was placed on the enforcement of local authority regulations e.g. Obstructions to Traffic Duties, Stationary Traffic Offences, Litter Enforcement, Monitoring of Public Amenities, adhering to the Casual Trading, Dog Licenses and Control of Horses Regulations. Recently celebrating its first anniversary, the Scheme has moved forward and Wardens have made progress in forging stronger links in the community, and are now firmly established as an integral part of community life.

In particular, the Community Wardens have developed strong relationships through education and awareness events in the community e.g. School and Community Group Presentations, Clean ups for National Spring Clean and assisting the Gardaí in outdoor events.

Flexible role

I’m one of 15 Community Wardens employed by Galway County Council for this three-year pilot scheme with specific deployment in Athenry. Like all the Community Wardens, I have been provided with distinctive grey uniform, mobile equipment and a van bearing the Council’s logo, which makes wardens easily identifiable in the Community. I’m based in the County Council’s area office in Old Church Street (091-844042); calls and emails are logged in the office and it’s my duty to respond to them. The role therefore demands flexibility and unsociable hours are an inherent part of the job.

The visible impact of a Community Warden in Athenry is quite apparent. Feedback has been very positive, traffic congestion has decreased, but all of this is subject to the co-operation of the public. l have highlighted the importance of the observance of the traffic restrictions, in particular on dangerous bends and corners, but this remains a problem in Athenry.

Breach of the Traffic regulations in relation to the illegal parking of vehicles at the Fire Station is a cause of great concern, as this contravention could have life threatening consequences.

New traffic plan

The new Traffic Management Plan, which will shortly be put into operation, will provide more fluid traffic flows, provided all motorists and businesses obey the new traffic laws and co-operate fully with the Gardaí and Community Warden. The safety of schoolchildren has been taken into consideration, together with extra parking spaces for disabled drivers; loading-bays with parking for commercial delivery vehicles from 8am to 6pm are also welcome additional traffic measures.

Environment

The Community Warden Scheme has also made a positive impact on the physical appearance of Athenry; certain localised problems still remain particularly in relation to burning of plastics, tyres and wrapping. I’m very aware of the public health concerns raised with regard to the noxious emissions from this activity.

Waste recycling

Recycling facilities are available at the Bottles Banks and also at Recycling Centres in Ballinasloe and Tuam and I fully support the Green philosophy of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. To reinforce this message, I give presentations on Litter and Environmental matters to students and the community and also supply bags and gloves for school clean-ups.

Positive links

l have developed strong links with Athenry groups. Last year l adjudicated on the Athenry Local Tidy Towns Competition and provided new judging criteria, which was commended by the Committee and contributed to the improvement of the National Marks for 2002.

Athenry Neighbourhood Watch invited me onto the Committee to assist them in establishing new groups in the locality with the help of Athenry Garda Síochána.

I have also assisted in the formation of the No Names Club in Athenry and intend to foster this important link by remaining involved in the overall running of the Club in Athenry.

Acknowledgements

I wish to acknowledge the work of Community Groups in Athenry in particular: Athenry ADC, Athenry Tidy Towns, Athenry Community Council, Athenry Heritage and Tourism Company, Athenry Anglers Association, Residents in Ballydavid Halting Site, Athenry Women’s Group, The Project Society, Vocational School Athenry and Scoil Chroí Naofa. I also commend the work of the County Council Outdoor Staff in Athenry and am very grateful for all the help and assistance afforded to them by the Gardai.

Brighter future

Athenry is a unique and progressive town, and with the co-operation and good-will of all its people with The Community Warden, County Council, Gardai and other service providers, it can be a safer, healthier and happy environment especially for adults and children alike.

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About this record

Written by Shane Coogan Community Warden

Published here 16 Jan 2024 and originally published Summer 2003

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