Joyriders crash and burn at Leafair pitches

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Joyriders who caused extensive damage to a sports pitch in the Leafair area of Derry have been told to stop attacking their own community.

Derry’s Mayor Colum Eastwood says council workers are now working to ensure the pitches are reopened as soon as possible following the incident in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

It is understood that at around 4am the car was driven through the fence surrounding the grass pitch at Leafair before being set on fire and causing extensive damage to the fence and surrounding grass area.

Earlier this year the pitches underwent a major revamp and a state-of-the-art synthetic pitch unveiled next to the grass playing surface.

The Mayor says it is distressing to see attacks of this nature on community sports facilities and appealed for witnesses to come forward.

“Back in January of this year I attended the launch of state of the art floodlight synthetic pitch which is adjacent to this grass pitch.

“Its an excellent community facility and is hailed as one of the best examples of what can be achieved when communities, and local and regional government work together in partnership.

“Attacks of this nature are deplorable and should be condemned. Council staff are working to ensure that this incident will not affect services and its hoped that the grass pitch will reopen to the local community in the Greater Shantallow area as soon as possible,” he says.

Irish Republican Socialist Party spokesman Martin McMonagle says the attack has sparked an angry response locally.

He says it follows a number of incidents of antisocial behaviour in the area.

“These types of incidents, whereby vital community resources are attacked, are carried out by those with no interest in the community and who appear to not want to be part of the community.

“This comes after reports of other anti-social activity in the general Fern Park area during the past week including St Patrick’s Day.”

He says those involved must revaluate “their roles within the community.”

Police are asking anyone with information to call them on 0845 600 8000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.