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Organiser defends festival after anti-social complaints

THE organiser of the Jamboree country music festival that took place in Fintona has defended the event after some local businesses and residents in the village complained about a rise in anti-social behaviour following the huge influx of people into the town at the weekend.

Last Saturday night, the Ecclesville Centre was packed out with thousands of Irish country music fans eager to see a host of Irish country music stars, headlined by Derek Ryan.

But while the Jamboree concerts provide the local economy with a much-needed boost, there have been complaints posted on social media that they have also led to an increase in anti-social behaviour, such as vandalism, whenever they have been staged.

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Police have confirmed that they received a number of reports of criminal damage in Fintona over the weekend, including vandalism to a playpark, a car that had its wing mirror broken and the contents of a plant pot strewn over a road.

In perhaps the most serious incident, a filling station in the town posted up CCTV footage of a group of males smoking beside petrol pumps, one of the males urinating over a pump, before the pumps are pulled out and thrown on the ground.

In the Facebook post, a representative of the filling station says, “Numerous incidents and acts of vandalism over the years as a result of the Jamborees held at the Ecclesville Centre… Quite frankly, we’ve had enough.”

Responding to the concerns raised about anti-social behaviour, Andrew Short, managing director of AJS Promotions, who organise the Jamboree, said that they worked “very closely” with the local council and the PSNI regarding the event to ensure that everything was done properly.

Mr Short said it was a “major concern” of his to make sure that the town of Fintona was looked after whenever the Jamboree took place. He revealed that the organisers would lift a lot of the flower pots around the Ecclesville Centre before the event and would put them back in place afterwards.

The concert promoter said he had viewed the video footage from the filling station and acknowledged it was “disappointing”, but added, “I can’t do any more than what we’re doing at the minute.”

Mr Short stressed that the Jamboree was strictly over-18s and that no pint glasses or glass bottles were used at the venue for health and safety reasons.

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Inspector Jonathan Gordon, of the PSNI, said the police took all reports of anti-social behaviour seriously.
He said, “We fully understand the effect anti-social behaviour can have and what might seem like fun to those involved, can be distressing to others.”

Inspector Gordon added, “I want to take this opportunity to appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and saw anything suspicious to contact police in Omagh on 101.

“Alternatively information can be provided anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

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