Drunken teenagers torment local priest

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A Derry priest says he may have to leave his parochial house because of ‘unbearable’ anti-social behaviour.

Rev. Dermott Harkin, CC, St Mary’s in Creggan, says gangs of teenagers - many of them drunk - are congregating at a laneway next to his home on an almost nightly basis.

He told the ‘Sunday Journal: “They could be there from midnight to 6.30 a.m. - and all the time shouting and roaring, singing and God knows what else. I simply can’t get any sleep. As people will know, it can be difficult to function properly if you haven’t had a decent night’s sleep. It’s now got to the point where I may have to go elsewhere to get a few hours sleep.

“This is the very last thing I want to do. As a priest, one of my duties is to live and work within my parish and I want people to know that I will always make myself available to my parishioners - day and night. But, as things stand, I might have no other option but to go somewhere else at night simply to sleep. The situation recently has got totally out of hand.

“For example, on Thursday night, a gang of young people arrived at the laneway -which runs adjacent to the church and parochial house - at about 11 p.m. They were still there at 4.30 a.m and all the time shouting, singing and, to be honest, creating an awful racket. It’s really quite intimidating.”

Rev. Harkin, who arrived in the Creggan parish in September of last year after four years in the Three Patrons parish, says other householders have also complained about the teenagers.

He added: “You have to wonder if parents are concerned for the whereabouts of their children - and let’s remember some of them are of school-going age - if they are out and about roaming the streets at 5.30 a.m.

“My concern is that the situation will only deteriorate as the nights get longer.”

One local resident told the ‘Journal’: “It’s a ridiculous state of affairs. Poor Fr. Harkin shouldn’t have to put up with this. He has a difficult enough job to do without having to endure the antics of these yahoos.”

Local Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Campbell branded the situation “shameful”.

“It is a shocking and embarrassing indictment on our community when our local priest feels he may have to leave his home at night because of anti-social elements. It is time for people to rally round and let this mindless few know that this sort of outrageous behaviour won’t be tolerated.

“If a 15-year-old is causing mayhem at 5.30 a.m., you have to ask the question: where are the parents and do they know or even care where their children are?”