Residents Take Stand Against ASB At Ballymote

Residents in the Ballymote area estates in Downpatrick have protested against the rise in anti-social behaviour around the main Killough Road.

Gangs of youngsters, some in primary school age, have been congregating in the evenings and have been seen throwing large stones at passing vehicles.

Residents of the Ballymote area in Downpatrick have expressed their concerns about the rise in anti-social behaviour in the area, after a passing car was struck by stone.

The protest was organised by the Flying Horse Ward Community Forum and Forum chairperson Lisa Perry said: “We need to get on top of this latest increase in anti-social behaviour in the estates. Up until recently things have been relatively orderly. But in the past few days this matter of throwing stones at traffic must be highlighted and it must be stopped. It is very dangerous and a car travelling at 30 mph could potentially cause a serious road traffic accident if a windscreen was smashed.”

Even as the residents assembled, a young girl of primary school age on a bicycle had a large stone taken from her by one of the residents.

Lisa Perry added: “This meeting has been called to express our concern about the rising anti-social behaviour in this area, especially the trowing of stones at cars. During the week a number of cars came under attack and a pensioner’s car was hit by a stone.

“This has caused a lot of distress to the driver and his wife and both were hurt. Our community has seen a welcome reduction in anti-social behaviour in recent months and it would be a great pity to see this going back to the those times again.

“Our community must stand together and let residents here know that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable and that they should know where their children are at all times. Those children involved need to respect their neighbours in our community.

“We are appealing that if anyone knows who these children are to report them to the police as these children think this is acceptable behaviour because they keep getting away with it.

“We as a forum know it’s not our job to police the estates but if enough reports are given to the police they will have to act on this. I would just like too to say I am delighted with the response from local residents today and I hope we can calm this down as soon as possible before someone is seriously hurt.”

A stone being carried by a young person on the Ballymote estate, and a broken bottle collected at the side of the Killough Road.

One elderly couple who were on their way to visit the family grace at Ballykinlar had a stone hurled at their car. The driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We were just heading off when there was a very loud bang on the bonnet as a fairly large stone struck the car. There were a group of young people standing up on the hill in the New Model Farm. Some were definitely of primary school age. I just wonder if their parents knew where they were and what they were getting in to.

‘They seem to be copying the behaviour of the bigger youths and this is worrying. Another split second and the stone could have come through the windscreen and possible caused harm to myself and my wife, and even to other road users. This is very dangerous and must stop before it gets completely out of hand. The Killough Road at the Ballymote estate is a busy road on the outskirts of Downpatrick and this should not be happening.”

Cllr Dermot Curran said: “This sort of behaviour is just unacceptable. Elderly citizens should not be treated in this way. I can’t understand people who do this sort of thing. It is dangerous and anti-social and has to end now.

“I fully support the members of the Downpatrick community who are working to put and end to this problem, and I sincerely hope that the residents of the Ballymote area give them their full support.”

“Speaking after the protest organised by the Flying Horse Ward Community Forum, Downpatrick Sinn Fein election candidates for Downpatrick and Lecale, Oonagh Hanlon and Jordan Madden, welcomed the response from local residents condemning the recent anti social behaviour.

Oonagh Hanlon said: “After a slew of attacks on drivers by youths in the Ballymote area over recent weeks, it is encouraging to see the local community standing firmly against this sort of behaviour.

“After witnessing the aftermath of Thursday’s attack on an elderly couple, we stand firmly with the local community in demanding an end to this thuggery. A multi-agency approach is much needed to quell this plague of senseless violence. I will be working closely with my party colleagues and external bodies to ensure that this matter is given the serious consideration it is due. This onslaught of anti-social behaviour can not be allowed to continue” said Mrs Hanlon

Jordan Madden added: “The need for an end to attacks like these is of paramount importance to our town. People should not have to be fearful in their own community. We can see by the turnout today that 99% of the local community are beyond exhausted with this behaviour, and it is a small minority wreaking havoc for everyone else.

“Wednesday night’s attack was particularly dangerous. After witnessing the result first hand, following up with the elderly couple and liasing with local residents groups I can certainly say that emotions are running high in the area. This frustration should be channelled into a pro-active approach of tackling anti-social behaviour. We will be working with statutory bodies and community groups to ensure that everything possible is done to deal with this”

Cllr Cadogan Enright said: “I have visited the home of the two senior citizens whose attack was the subject of the protest. They were still very upset at what could have had a very nasty outcome. We’re very glad for the support of the community

“We faced down anti-social behaviour in the Flying Horse three years ago, and it is important this new phase is nipped in the bud before a new gang gets established. I have discussed this matter with Inspector Darren Hardy and the community police on the ground. I have emphasised that the community expects them to build a case quickly against those involved and to liaise with the Housing Executive over housing sanctions if the families concerned  will not co-operate in the control of their children.”