NEARLY 40 well known and very public locations around Limerick are being used for ‘dogging’, a situation where people engage in public sex acts in their cars, while being watched by others.
A website - www.swing4ireland.com - lists the locations in specific detail, giving directions, times, dates and instructions to those seeking to partake in what elected representatives around Limerick have labelled as “appalling” behaviour.
In fact, when Tipperary and Clare are added to the equation, there are more than 100 locations in the general Mid-West region where such activities are taking place on a weekly - if not daily - basis. Locations are given for the entire country on the site.
Well known locations are listed, including: Lough Gur visitor centre; LIT and UL car parks; the industrial estates in Rathkeale and Raheen; Curraghchase car park; Crescent Shopping Centre car park; ‘Scotland Bog’ in Carrigkerry; an area behind Ard Scoil Ris on the North Circular Road in the city; ‘Pixie Lane’ in Hospital; the Demense in Newcastle West; Kilmurry Lodge Hotel car park and many more.
According to the website - which lists close to 100,000 registered users and has been in operation for more than five years - the ‘dogging’ term comes from the expression ‘walking the dog, “covering outdoor exhibitionism and car fun”.
“Dogging can be great fun, and at times it’s a real thrill of excitement. Just be careful, don’t do it anywhere and keep your eyes open,” says the site.
It adds that participants must “be careful”, as “there are laws that protect members of the public from being unwilling witnesses to sexual behaviour or from being harassed or intimidated in their use of public spaces or facilities. So sex in public toilets, parks or places where other passers-by may be offended is illegal”.
Cllr Richie Butler, Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, told the Limerick Leader that he was “aghast to find out that this is happening, that this is up on the web for everybody to see, and that participation is included and encouraged on the site”.
“I am calling on the gardai to monitor the situation and deal with it as quickly as possible. This is normally to do with consenting adults, but what if young people or teenagers were to come across this? That is where the dangers really begin. So I would be calling on the gardai to check into it fully and any prosecutions that need to take place, should take place immediately,” he added.
Former Minister Willie O’Dea lashed the site and its activities as “appalling”.
“This is absolutely illegal and I think the gardai should look at this to see if it the commission of a criminal offence - if so - if somebody is doing this, there should be somebody held responsible,” he told the Limerick Leader.
“It is hugely distasteful,” he added.
Mayor of Limerick Maria Byrne said that she would be “completely against something like this”.
“There is an illegal element to this and I hope the gardai are aware of it and I would find this very distasteful, I would be very strongly against this, I wouldn’t support it in any fashion,” she said.
The website is operated by a company called Symbios Solutions Limited, whose registered address is in Fareham in England. Contacted by the Leader, a spokesman who said he was a “relations manager” denied that there was anything illegal about the site.
“If you look at the law relating to ‘dogging’ - people doing that activity out of doors, which is consensual, is not illegal,” said Mike Saunders.