Sorcha Rose McGoarty
Young people in the Ratoath area are asking for more free public green space to be allocated to the area so teenagers can hang out in a safe well lit space.
With the rapid growth of Ratoaths population in the early to mid 2000s came a wave of young families whose children have since grown up to be young adults and teenagers.
The town has two bustling primary schools, an overpopulated secondary school and many young people are also sent to schools outside the area.
With such a large demographic of young people it would be safe to assume there is a space for them to go, like a youth café or a park. Somewhere without a fee to attend, somewhere safe and well lit.
However, there is a distinct lack of such a space in the town, having only a small children’s playground and green space littered around the estates.
Much of the green areas have plans for residential development, leaving these youths with even less space to exist in a safe and free environment.
Matthew Fleming (18) is one such young person living in the area. Speaking with Meath South East News Matthew spoke of how growing up he was very involved in sports and was on several teams as a child and still plays football. However these activities required a fee to attend.
“I know when the crash hit we saw a lot of people being taken out of sports and activities.” Fleming said. With the GAA clubs membership fees currently sitting at 100 a year for a child (under 7) and 150 for a juvenile (between 8 and 18), many children are unable to attend these activities.
However it is not simply the fault of the GAA or any other such organisation for this issue. These activities need money in order to run, and many of them have fundraising campaigns throughout the year to keep fees as low as possible.
Despite the large amounts of sports clubs available, there is a lack of free recreational facilities for young people.
Back in the earlier days of Ratoaths population growth, Seanaid leader Regina Doherty helped to found and fundraise for a youth café in the town called Pulse. During its time of running, the organisers found less and less young people were willing to attend, as many felt they were being watched all the time.