Anti-social behaviour is growing around the Killyleagh harbour area according to local politicians who are receiving calls from their constituents calling for action to curb the problems.
The worst case scenario is that some dark evening there is a tragic accident and there is a fatality when a teenager loses his or her life.
Strangford MP Jim Shannon MP has condemned in the strongest terms the destruction of life saving equipment at the harbour near Hans Sloane Square in Killyleagh as “disgraceful”.
He said: “This has happened before and no lessons have been learned despite the equipment having been replaced before.
“It angers me to think of someone knowingly destroying this vital ‘throw-line’ that is there for the sole purpose of saving lives. To set this on fire as a joke is the opposite of funny, and to those who know anything I am begging you to inform my office or the PSNI on 101 or Crimestoppers and ensure that when this is replaced the only time it is touched is when it is to save a life and not to set fire to or destroy.
“I do not ever want to be in the position where I am commenting on a death in this area down to a lack of equipment that has been mindlessly destroyed.
“For all our sakes this must NEVER happen again.”
Councillor Billy Walker also commented on the incident and said: “As an elected local representative, I am increasingly angry at the level of anti-social behaviour taking place around the harbour area in Killyleagh. Fireworks have been let off and ropes for the life rings have been burned.
“Residents in this area an sick, sore and tired of the constant abuse from these teenagers which occurs mostly at weekends. Some residents are at their wits’ end because of the stress this is causing and it is just not right that elderly people should have to live under these circumstances with shouting, screaming and open foul language.
“I am seeking an urgent meeting with the new police Chief Superintendent for the area to address this issue and try and nip it in the bud before someone gets killed. It is just a matter of time before some youngster in the dark under the influence of drink and / or drugs falls into the harbour and drowns. This area has just become a drinking den. I do not just want to move them on to some other part of Killyleagh. I want some action on dealing with this social problem once and for all.
“”I have had a number of irate calls from residents in the harbour area who are tortured with these youngsters smashing things, wrecking, and constantly using bad language. These youngsters are as young as 13 years old some of them, but most are a good bit older. I am concerned that someone will come to grief through drowning or a dodgy pill. Parents must ask the question: where is my son or daughter in the evening?
“Parents have responsibilities and need to step up to the plate as part of the answer in dealing with this problem. I just hope that one evening a parent does not get gets a knock on the door with some tragic news from the police that their child has been involved in a fatal accident.”
Cllr Walker said the police need to increase their patrols in the area. He added: The PSNI promised us when they closed the police station in Killyeagh that they would have a mobile police station in the town. It disappeared after six months. The police need to be more active in the Rowallene area. There has to be answers as to why the police are not following through on this anti-social behaviour which is very disruptive in our community. I will be putting this to the Chief Superintendent when I meet with her. I do recognise that police too need to act on complaints so perhaps we can look at this too and see if the residents are in fact complaining properly to the police in the first place.
“I attended an Interagency Meeting recently and proposed that the PSNI, Council and the PCSP work together to find a strategy to deal with this problem. The Friday night Youth Drop In Centre which ran for five years held in the Bridge Centre has closed down due to lack of funding. They needed £1500 to keep it going, a small sum really for the benefits it was generating. It was very well run by the dedicated volunteers, and the anti-social behaviour figures show that while the centre was running that it reduced this by 90%. This proves that it was working properly and now we are creeping back to where the problems all started from years ago.
“Recently six ornamental lights at the harbour were broken which cost £250 each to replace. That is the sort of drip feed destruction that is on-going and it has to stop.
“We need to get our heads together on this quickly and find a solution. Killyleagh has become a forgotten town. We need the expertise and resources from different agencies to deal with it.”