The old shopping centre on St James' Road was destroyed by fire in 2003 and the site has remained an eyesore for the local community ever since - despite the granting of planning permission on a number of occasions for new retail units and apartments. Looney has been organising the local community against the site for more than a year, and presented a petition to the Council and the developer demanding action signed by more than 500 local residents.
On foot of the petition the Council had requested that a wall be built by the developer as part of a clean up of the site, but, instead, a wooden fence was erected at a cheaper cost. Looney slammed this at the time saying such a public hoarding would provide a blank canvass for grafitti and vandalism - an issue which has now arisen with speed over the past fortnight.
"The hoarding remained relatively graffiti-free for the first few weeks," Looney said, "and any graffiti was daubed over. Sadly, our predictions have come true with various incidents of 'tagging' and other vandalism at the site in the last two weeks.""Graffiti is a significant local issue in Greenhills as elsewhere and needs to be tackled by a community-centred approach incorporating the Council, the schools, the Gardaí and other community groups. But what is most pressing in Greenhills is the need to appropriately develop the old McHugh's site. Local people, many of whom are elderly, demand a shop, a post office and a pharmacy on a clean and well-presented site - and the developer concerned has proven that he is either incapable of, or unwilling to take, action. My priority will be to ensure these are delivered through the Council in the interests of the community."