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Damage to picnic spot is 'appalling'

Caroline Rainey

Reporter:

Caroline Rainey

Broken glass, destroyed fencing and livestock being chased are just some of the anti-social behaviour issues that have been reported at a popular amenity site outside Kilkeel.

As a result of these “appalling actions” police have said they increased their patrols of the area around Whitewater picnic area in a bid to prevent any further incidents like this.

Mournes Councillor Independent Unionist Henry Reilly has condemned those who are carrying out this type of wanton behaviour, adding that young people need to have “some respect for others and the ratepayers who will pay a fortune to clear up after them”.

Councillor Reilly said he was “reliably informed” by people in the local vicinity that last Tuesday (17 July) evening, around 50 young people had congregated at the site after the meet up “was advertised on social media”.

“They chased cows in the neighbouring field and set off fireworks. I know that people in the local vicinity had no option but to call the police,” he said.

Councillor Reilly added that, having visited the site, he is “appalled at the damage done” to the site on the Newry Road.

“There is broken glass and discarded beer cans everywhere.

“The council fencing has also been destroyed and stolen to burn. It was all put in place through an improvement scheme a few years ago. Even the area designed for disabled anglers has been damaged.

“The area also stinks,” added Councillor Reilly.

“This type of behaviour will put lots of people off coming to the area. It would be very popular with camper vans pulling in to stay overnight, but with the debris and the smell, no-one will want to go anymore.

“The area would also be popular with people getting photographs taken at the concrete weir with the trees from Mourne park in the background. Now you could not go down near it because it is very dangerous, with broken glass everywhere.

“Police are investigating and I have asked the council to clean the area up, but I appeal to the young people using the area for raves to have some respect for others and the ratepayers who will pay a fortune to clear up after them,” added Councillor Reilly.

The area is one of 16 council-owned amenity sites in the Mournes.

Inspector Nigel Henry with the PSNI confirmed they had received a number of reports of anti-social behaviour in the Drummanmore Road/Newry Road area of Kilkeel in recent days.

“Officers will be carrying out increased patrols in the area to help prevent further incidents and I would encourage the public to report any incidents of anti-social behaviour to police at the earliest opportunity, in a bid to help us prevent and detect crime.

“Anyone with any information on recent incidents or with general concerns regarding anti-social behaviour should contact 101,” said Inspector Henry.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council said they were aware of the damage being caused.

“Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has scheduled the replacement of its damaged fencing located at the Whitewater Picnic Area, Newry Road, Kilkeel.

“The council currently services the litter bins located at this area every two weeks and plans to review this service schedule following the recent incident,” said a council spokesperson.

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