You're on camera: 21 new HD CCTV cameras for Kilkenny City

Kilkenny's panopticon: Council agrees to fund €400,000 garda surveillance network

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

KILKENNY

File pic: The additional cameras will be monitored from the control room at Kilkenny Garda Station

Twenty-one new powerful, high definition CCTV cameras are to be rolled out in Kilkenny City as part of a major garda surveillance plan, with financial backing from Kilkenny County Council.

At a cost of €400,000, the vast network of cameras will add to the existing 15 cameras in operation, as well as four council cameras, and the multitude of private cameras operated by local businesses. The new devices will cover various points along most of the main city thoroughfares, while up to ten of the cameras will be situated along the ring road.

Gardaí have held a number of in-committee meetings with local councillors and the council executive in recent weeks to outline the plan.

The additional cameras will be monitored from the control room at Kilkenny Garda Station, and the data will be stored in the station. The Superintendent for the District Office will be the data controller, and only trained garda members are to use the system.

Proposing an amendment to include the item in the council’s budget for 2020, agreed on Monday (see page 4), Cllr Andrew McGuinness, said the cameras would be a worthwhile investment.

“It ensures safety and security for the people of Kilkenny. It is an acknowledgment of the gardaí and the fantastic work they’ve been doing in recent years,” he said.

“This CCTV system will take it to the next level and put us in the forefront of the whole country — we would be the first to do it.”

Gardaí last year made representations to the Kilkenny Joint Policing Committee regarding 15 locations where they felt CCTV would be beneficial. In the time since, this number has increased to 21, and it’s understood the cameras are to be rolled out in two phases. Gardaí say the cameras will assist in managing any major emergencies, prevent public disorder, protect citizens and businesses, and increase the deterrent and detection of criminal activity.

Areas understood to be in line for the new CCTV include Friary Street, Castlegates, Granges/Freshford Road, St Francis’ Bridge, the roundabout, and all ring road roundabouts.

Cllr McGuinness proposed €50,000 be given to the scheme every year for the next four years, matched by funding from the Municipal District.

“This is giving the gardaí €400,000 over four years to complete this,” he said.

The CCTV item was among several amendments proposed by Cllr McGuinness to the draft budget, seconded by Cllr Martin Brett and agreed by all members. The amendments also included an increase in amenity grants by €13,000 to €140,000; and increase in festival/events grants to €112,000.

It also set out that graveyard grants are to increase by €6,000 to €23,000; €5,000 for Barnstorm Theatre; and €5,000 for a new war memorial project to recognise that a boy from Kilkenny was the youngest Irish soldier to serve in World War I — Thomas Joseph Woodgate from Callan.

“This young man died at 14 years of age. His gravestone was 18, but it was wrong. The youngest official Irish soldier for WWI is actually from Kilkenny,” said Cllr McGuinness.

Chief executive Colette Byrne said she had no problem with the vast majority of the amendments proposed.

“I think the CCTV is very significant, and it’s showing leadership,” she said.

“But to be very clear, the cameras in this case are adding to the gardaí’s existing scheme, and the guards will be taking responsibility for GDPR and the maintenance thereafter.”