YOUNG children in the Strathroy area of Omagh have been deprived of play facilities for at least a fortnight after “mindless vandals” caused considerable damage to their local play park.
The park, which is enjoyed by families throughout the area, will be closed for over two weeks until the council can repair damage to its surface which has been deliberately ripped up.
This is the second time the park has been attacked and local community worker, Mickey Kelly, believes those responsible are young people who are “running a bit wild.”
Urging parents to “know what their children are doing”, Mr Kelly said, “Strathroy is a great place to live but this is the second time the play park has been vandalised within the past few years.
“The individuals involved are young people from the community, between the ages of 11-15, that are running a bit wild. It is only a small percentage of children, who are not being looked after, that are doing this late at night.
“I urge parents to know what their children are doing,” Mr Kelly continued. “These acts are happening after midnight, it is totally unacceptable for children as young as this to be out after dark. We are talking four or five people, a small percentage of a large community.”
Mr Kelly said approximately 100 children are taking part in a local summer scheme during July but they won’t be able to use the play park for another two-three weeks.
“The play park is a very popular spot and most nights you would see dozens of parents with buggies, enjoying the sun and their children playing in the park.
“It is owned by the council and they will pay to resurface and fix the damage as quickly as they can but having to clean up after vandals is a waste of council money.”
Sinn Féin councillor Marty McColgan, who is from the Strathroy area, described the incident as “a particularly callous act”.
“Strathroy is a proud and tight-knit community which prides itself on looking out for one another, many people have contacted me and are outraged at this anti-community action,” he said.
“The site has been secured for safety reasons as the surface of the park has been ripped up. If anyone has any information please come forward.”