‘I’ve been driven out of my bar’

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A well-known Coleraine publican has claimed that “anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and lawlessness” has forced him to sell his pub at Waterside for a huge financial loss.

Speaking exclusively to The Coleraine Times this week, Paddy McCann, confirmed that he will close The Castle Bar after Christmas.

Expressing his disgust at what he describes as “a criminal element” which he says has made the Waterside area a “no-go area”, Mr McCann also hit out at a shortage of police patrols.

“I bought this bar for £190,000 in 1999 and sold it at auction recently for £95,000. My net loss has been £205,000 but I’ve had enough, I’m walking away,” he said. “Good people are being driven away from this area by drug dealing and criminality and this bar has been stuck in the middle of it.”

Mr McCann said he had reported anti-social behaviour and criminal behaviour to police on two instances over the past month.

“Just last Saturday night I rang 999 to tell the police about three or four young boys out of their minds on drink and drugs and it was 40 minutes later before a squad car arrived.

“Two weeks before that - on Saturday, November 29 - I called the police about local hoods in the area and was told that there were no crews available. It’s a ridiculous situation.

“Had it not been for the criminality and drugs I would still be here but no more, I’m walking away.”

Mr McCann claimed that other Waterside businesses are being affected by drug taking, drunkeness and crime.

“I’ve been involved in the licensing trade for 30 years. I’m a partner of Patsy’s Bar [at Ballycastle Road] in Coleraine and we have never needed police there. It’s just a good mixed bar with no trouble.”

On Monday Mr McCann expressed his deep concerns to DUP MP Gregory Campbell and again called for increased patrols.

“When I took over this bar it was mixed and we had no bother. The Castle Bar has been here for 100 years and it will be gone now.

“The new owners are planning to open some food retail business.

“I will be concentrating on another business venture.”

Responding to Mr McCann’s claims about crime and the police response to it in the Waterside area, Area Commander Chief Inspector Nicky Thompson, said: “I can assure local business people and residents that police are committed to making the streets of Coleraine a safer place to live and work in and are working to tackle the issue of crime and anti-social behaviour in the area.

“We monitor crime reports closely to see where the trends lie and are listening to the local community to ensure we direct our activity accordingly. In fact the general trend over the last five years shows that crime and anti-social behaviour is significantly down.

“We will continue to work with local representatives and partner agencies to find resolutions to anti-social behaviour. We recognise people within this community are working very hard to deal with these issues and that it is only a small minority of people involved in these incidents.”

Ch Insp Thompson added: “Anyone who has any information should contact their local police on the non-emergency number 101.

“ Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”