Newtownstewart play park vandalism condemned

Thursday, 22 June 2017

A COMMUNITY play park in Newtownstewart has re-opened after vandals caused widespread damage to it at the weekend.

Sometime between Saturday night and the early hours of Sunday morning, vandals targeted the council-run facility at Vaughan's Holm.

The culprits tore down a section of the perimeter fencing, uprooted a bin and interfered with play equipment.

Yesterday (Tuesday), a spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council confirmed that officers have visited the site to investigate and assess the damage with repair works carried out.

"A significant amount of damage had been caused to the play park, including damage to the perimeter fencing and bin and dangerous materials such as broken glass had to be cleared from the area. Repair works have now been completed and the park remains open to the public.

"The public are reminded that the play park facility is there for the enjoyment and benefit of local children and we appeal to everyone to refrain from anti-social activity and vandalism," the spokesperson said.

Sinn Féin councillor for the area, Kieran McGuire, has condemned the incident and says it has angered the local community.

"Local residents are totally incensed about what has happened whereby sometime over Saturday night or in the early hours of Sunday morning an individual or individuals thought it a brave act to target the children's play facility by ripping down a section of perimeter fencing, uprooting the waste bin and wrapping the swings to the top of the frame," he said.

He continued: "This is a direct attack against the local community not least the local many children who use the facility and whoever is responsible should be ashamed. We hope that this is a one off and whoever is responsible can be identified and brought to book for these actions.

"However, in the meantime, we would urge people to be vigilant and to immediately report if they believe any further acts of vandalism are being carried out on the facility."

Also condemning the vandalism was Ulster Unionist councillor, Alderman Derek Hussey, who has also spoken out this week about criminal damage in the Castle Park site in Castlederg.

"Council officials were made aware of the damage and have ensured that repairs were carried out. Why anyone would wish to vandalise items at a local children's play area is beyond me.

"Whilst I ask that anyone with knowledge of this attack contact the authorities, I would also appeal for those involved to cease such senseless wanton vandalism.

"It is local people who suffer when such attacks in Castlederg, Newtownstewart or wherever are undertaken with facilities having to be withdrawn from use during repair and indeed all of us suffer in our pockets as our rates are diverted to pay for the subsequent repairs," he said.

The incident comes in the wake of a successful long-running campaign by local residents for a second play park at Mourne Park in the town.

Planning permission has been granted for the project with work expected to commence soon once the transfer of land from Housing Executive and procurement issues are completed.


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