Teenagers are openly engaging in lewd sex acts in front of passers-by, and next to sacred statue of Our Lady.

The holy grotto has been turned into a seedy site for what has been described as “open air orgies” next to a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in Ballyphehane, Cork City.

Residents of the area are said to be appalled at what they are seeing, with one branding the romps “absolutely disgusting”. Another source who did not want to be named said told the Irish Sun “They engage in all types of obscene behaviour.They perform lewd sex acts behind the grotto or if they get drunk enough they have no problem doing them in public view.”

According to Independent councillor Mick Finn, the last thing that is happening at the grotto is praying! “The area is dominated by groups of young people who are sitting on it or behind it. They are having sex there. They are drinking and doing drugs and they are very intimidating.

There are different gangs of different age groups and the area is a magnet for them. Small kids are playing in the playground and they are seeing all types of anti-social behaviour,” he said.

Sinn Fein councillor Chris O’Leary said he has also heard the same complaints from residents adding that “anyone who approaches them is told to f*** off”

Locals have branded the youths as ‘scummy’ , telling the Sun that “they are picking on the most vulnerable, and the elderly.”

Gardai also confirmed they have received many complaints about the activities of youngters at the grotto, but have not yet made any arrests for anti-social behaviour.

The problems provoked a debate on Niall Prenderville’s 96fm  Cork radio show.