Mournes Councillor Sean Doran says youths are being “reckless”.
The worrying escalation in antisocial behaviour in Kilkeel is putting extreme pressure on emergency services according to a local Councillor writes Laura Barr.
Reports of a gang, some as young of 12, have been lighting fires, drinking alcohol and throwing fireworks at homes and vehicles on a nightly basis within the past week in the vicinity of Scrogg Road, Kilkeel.
Speaking to Down News, Mournes Sinn Fein Councillor, Sean Doran said it was “totally unacceptable” and that the “reckless behaviour” is putting already over-worked emergency services under pressure.
Cllr Doran explained that a gang of about 30 youths are responsible and the PSNI and Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) have been in attendance to the pitch on Scrogg Road on a nightly basis over the last seven days.
He added: “Council staff are having to clean the area up every day because the debris on the pitch and playpark is a real danger to the children who play there during the day.
“Emergency services and council can only do so much to deter this unacceptable behaviour but at the end of the day, it is the parents of these children that need to help put a stop to this.
“Parents need to know where there children are at night and what they are doing.
“The situation is only going to escalate in the run up to and including Halloween break and it needs to be stamped out now.”
NIFRS confirmed to Down News that they have been in attendance to the area on three separate occasions since Saturday (10 October).
Fire crew were despatched from Kilkeel Fire Station on Saturday, Sunday and yesterday (Monday) to extinguish fires.
A spokesperson said: “On Saturday, one fire appliance attended an incident to extinguish a blaze caused by setting alight pallets. The incident was under control by 8.49pm.
“On Sunday firefighters were called to extinguish a small quantity of bonfire material and on Monday, firefighters were called to put out a small quantity of rubbish.”
The spokesperson stated that all three fires are believed to have been the cause of “deliberate ignition”.
PSNI are urging the young people who are engaging in this activity to stop and to remind them that antisocial behaviour is “unacceptable”.
Sergeant Connolly told Down News that police are committed to tackling issues of antisocial behaviour and have been engaging with residents and community representatives and will continue to do so.
“People have a right to live in peace and to feel safe in their communities” he said.
“Parents and guardians must speak to their young people about where they are and who they are with and also warn them of the dangers of getting involved in behaviour which could result in injuring themselves, others, or ultimately, a criminal record.”
Sergeant Connolly added: “Police will continue to patrol the area and continue to work alongside our partner agencies, local representatives and the community.
“I would encourage anyone affected by antisocial behaviour to report the matter to police immediately on 101”.