Local politicians have warned that lives could be put at risk after vandals targeted security fencing around a collapsed bridge in Claudy.
SDLP East Derry MLA John Dallat said those responsible have been jeopardising the security measures put in place at the bridge and were putting people in danger in the process.
The bridge collapsed during the worst floods seen in the area for generations on the night of August 24 last and security fencing was erected around the site.
Mr Dallat said: “The Department for Infrastructure has gone to enormous lengths through their contractors to make this bridge safe, but astonishingly there are people who want to remove those safety measures and create a high risk for people and especially children.
“It really is mind-boggling that anyone would be engaged in such activity and expose others to real danger of losing their lives.”
Mr Dallat added: “Fencing panels have been broken down, removed from both sides of the collapsed bridge and the bridge left fully exposed to danger.
“But it is worse than that: direction signs, vital to motorists using an alternative route, have been removed also.
“I would appeal to anyone in the community who has any knowledge of who is involved in this reckless activity to report it to the police without hesitation.
“These individuals are endangering life and making life even more difficult for those who must make circuitous journeys because of the fallen bridge.”
Mr Dallat said he was grateful to the Department of Infrastructure for promptly replacing the vandalised signs, adding: “They must have their appeal heard and those involved stopped before individuals lose their lives.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald, meanwhile, has urged the community in Claudy to be vigilant regarding the security issue around the bridge.
Speaking following the reports that barriers and signs had been tampered with, the East Derry MLA commented: “The reports of tampering with barriers and signs are very concerning.
“These are in place to prevent access to the bridge which is not safe and to alert traffic to diversions.”
She added: “I would urge those who tampered with these to desist from doing so, as we do not want to see anyone being injured.
“I would also ask anyone who sees anything suspicious to report it to the police.”