Sion Mills vandalism could cost lives - warning

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Sion Mills vandalism could cost lives - warning thumbnailThe life saving throw line and safety notice at Sion Mills which was vandalised at the weekend.

A COMMUNITY worker has warned that the current spate of vandalism in the village of Sion Mills could ultimately lead to tragic consequences and even an unnecessary loss of life.

Andy Patton's stark prediction comes this week following damage caused to 'throw lines' at the Mourne river in Sion Mills.

"At this stage I would ask parents to sit up and take notice. This life-saving equipment that has been destroyed is of vital importance at the river. It is there to save lives," stressed Mr Patton.

"What if your child was in trouble in the water or was pushed in by friends for "a bit of fun" ... what then? To compound this matter, a young man tried to take his own life in the river at Paddy's Streams last Sunday. Two alert fishermen saved his life. They were able to retrieve him from the fast flowing water and an ambulance had to be called to give assistance.What would have happened if that had happened on the dam in Sion where you have deep water with a serious under current. What if there had been no throw line? People need to wise up and parents, please act now," he said.

The incident has sparked off numerous comments on the local community Facebook page with everyone expressing their shock and horror.

Among the public comments were: "Destroying property is not cool, it's criminal"; "This wasn't the village I grew up in; "I'm disgusted to hear about what the youngsters are doing to the village that I was proud to call my home".

Mr Patton said it might not be totally fair to blame the local youth as he knew from experience that many from outside the area congregated in the village at times and were responsible for some of the trouble too.

He said the only answer was education.


"Parents need to educate their young children. CCTV would help but it has to start with the basics. I even got a call last Sunday about young people in breaking windows in the old mill and that puts a negative on the village. Work has been done to tackle anti-social behaviour and statistics showed it was dropping but incidents like this make it difficult to figure out how to get through to them," continued Mr Patton.

Stating that lives are at stake anytime anyone tampers with vital life -saving equipment, he added: "The safety equipment does what it says on the tin - save lives, please leave it alone."

Meanwhile, in Strabane, the chairman of the local Mourne River Search and Rescue Service, Martin McDaid, has confirmed that recent damage to 'throw lines' on the river near the weir outside town has the potential for tragedy too.

"The 'throw lines' have all been damaged in this area and they've cut the rope from the life rings. This is particularly dangerous not only for people walking the river bank but for fishermen coming here to enjoy the area. Now there are not fit for purpose and that leaves a dangerous fast flowing stretch of the river without any safety equipment."

He added the rescue service knew this stretch of the river extremely well as they did most of their training there.

"We know it very well. There has no problems over the winter, just at summer time and we can't really say who is causing the damage because we haven't seen anyone at it but we would say - you are putting lives at risk," said Mr McDaid.


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