‘Selfish’ acts of vandalism at playparks in Derry & Strabane - ‘Talk to your children’

The Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Brian Tierney, is appealing to parents to talk to their children about the effects of vandalism at local play facilities after a spate of incidents in recent days.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 9:57 am
Ballyarnett play park (file picture)

Equipment in a number of playparks in Derry and Strabane were damaged at the weekend resulting in the closure of one park at Springhill in Strabane while repairs were carried out.

Mayor Tierney today urged parents to remind children that these incidents are impacting on the entire community during what is a very difficult time for everyone.

“I am calling on parents today to please intervene,” he appealed. “The young people behind them are not only putting themselves in danger they are also increasing the chance of injury for other children using damaged equipment. In one incident at Ballyarnett tyre swings were set alight which is reckless and dangerous in the extreme.

Vandalism at Ballymagowan Urban Park.

“I know that when the weather improves we always see an increase in this type of behaviour. But this year more than ever during lockdown our play parks and green areas are being used by an increasing number of families and young children. We have come to value these facilities more as an outlet for exercise and recreation and an opportunity to get out of the house for a short time.

“To cause damage will inevitably lead to their closure and this impacts on everyone in the surrounding area. Not to mention the extra resources needed to address the damage at a time when Council services are already under severe pressure. It is selfish, it is reckless and it will not be tolerated.

“Vandalism is a criminal offence and any incidents of this nature will be reported to the PSNI for investigation. Council’s Community Safety Wardens will also be stepping up patrols around these areas to deter this activity in the coming weeks. Please remind children that their actions can have a wider impact than they think, this is not just a bit of harmless fun, it’s an attack on their own community.”

Creggan Sinn Féin Councillor Tina Burke meanwhile recently condemned a series of vandalism incidents at Ballymagowan Urban Park.

Speaking after a second consecutive night of vandalism Colr Burke said: “In recent nights young people have been gathering in the park and lighting fires and causing damage to seating in the area. This is an attack on their own community and needs to end. This urban park was designed for the use of everyone in the local vicinity and is a widely used facility for local children to play in during the summer months. It is used on a daily basis by walkers and local families and the last thing that is needed is this carry on.

“On Tuesday night one of the summer seats was burned and on Wednesday night seating and wood from the nearby allotment project was stolen and burned along with tyres causing a major fire in the park.

“This needs to stop, and those responsible who live locally, need to find something positive to do with their spare time. Part of this land has been earmarked for the Inner City Sanctuary Project which is designed for children with special needs and Radius Housing is in the process of building over 120 new homes on land adjacent to it. This is all positive news for the local area and yet we have this negativity.”

Colr Burke concluded: “As a local representative, and as a local resident, I’m appealing to parents to talk to their children and make sure that their children are not caught up in this sort of activity.”