The government have said they have no money to fix street lighting at an underpass tunnel in Derry where a 15-year-old girl was attacked.
The Department for Regional Development (DRD) said that there was no money to repair cables which have been vandalised three times over recent years.
Officials were speaking in response to calls from SDLP Derry City Councillor Brian Tierney this week for Roads Service to prioritise the provision of street lighting at the Old School Lane underpass.
Colr. Tierney said the latest report of an attack on the teenage girl at the tunnel brings the concerns of local residents into sharp focus. The assault follows an upsurge in anti-social behaviour at the underpass.
Colr. Tierney said: “I’ve been told that the real problem with these lights is that the service cable has been stolen and to replace it would require the appointment of a contractor which Road Service says it is not in a financial position to do. Last month I called for the repairs after attending a meeting at Old School Lane with concerned residents, Habinteg, Apex, Roads Service and the PSNI.
“The report of an attack on a young girl in the area at the weekend highlights the gravity of the need for lighting repairs at the underpass. While no one can speculate whether adequate street lighting would have prevented this latest attack it at least may have resulted in someone seeing the incident take place.
“It is in the interest of community safety that these lights are repaired as soon as possible. I would call on Road Service to ensure finances can be found to complete the repairs as a matter of urgency.”
ADRD Transport NI spokeswoman responded: “Transport NI is responsible for the streetlights either side of the underpass itself. Unfortunately, the service cables have been removed by unknown persons at both ends for the third time in recent years.
“TransportNI recognise the difficulties this presents to the general public but under the current funding arrangements, there are no plans to replace them again this financial year.”
Detectives in Derry are trying to track down a man with a single upper tooth in connection with the attack on the teenager. The man is described as being 20 to 21-years-old, spoke with Derry accent and was wearing a red hooded top with white stripes.
Young people who were in the tunnel area in the early hours of Saturday morning are asked to contact the PSNI on 028 38366274 or 101.