Youths go on the rampage

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UNOCCUPIED homes on the Ballycairn Road are being used as ‘drinking dens’ by local youths.

Those involved in the weekend drinking binges have not only caused significant damage to the residential properties by removing wire and breaking windows, they have also dubbed sectarian graffiti over interior walls.

The graffiti on one of the rooms refers to a local police officer.

On another wall the words ‘Political Justice for the Heights’ has been written.

The group of youths also daubed slogans bout Hunger Striker Bobby Sands and the late PM Margaret Thatcher.

In the room of one house, the words ‘Bobby Sands is my hero’ has been written on the wall.

We understand that the young people involved are not from the Ballycairn area, and that the names of those involved in the gatherings appear on walls in several of the homes.

Coleraine DUP councillor George Duddy took a number of calls at the weekend from residents who say they are at their ‘wits end’.

Councillor Duddy visited the vacant properites yesterday (Monday) and was disgusted by the mess that had been left behind.

“These residents are really at their wits end,” he said.

“One resident I spoke to at the weekend described the scene on Saturday night in the area like something from the keystone cops.

“This is problem has been on-going now for a few months.

“These young people are using these properties as drinking dens.

“This is a very settled family area and no one should have to put up with this.

“These young people have no idea of the dangers that they face in these unoccupied properties.”

The DUP man called on local parents to be aware of the whereabouts of their children.

He also called on off licences in the area to be vigilant to people under the age of 18 trying to purchase alcohol.

“One resident I spoke to at the weekend described the scene on Saturday night in area like something from the keystone cops. This is problem has been on-going now for a few months.

“These young people are using these properties as drinking dens. This is a very settled family area and no one should have to put up with this. These young people have no idea of the dangers that they face in these unoccupied properties.”

The DUP man called on local parents to be aware of the whereabouts of their children. He also called on off licences in the area to be vigilant to people under the age of 18 trying to purchase alcohol.

Neighbourhood Policing Team’s Sgt Armour told The Times: “ Police have attended the area on a number of occasions, we’ve taken a proactive stance and we arrested one male for disorderly behaviour in the area on Saturday. We’ve also taken a number of young people home to their parents after finding them drunk.”

The officer added: “We’ve been working with a number of agencies to work through it. Clearly there is still work to be done but we need some help from the community.”

“We need understandably annoyed residents to keep reporting incidents to police. We also need young people to make the right choices and their parents or guardians to make sure they are behaving responsibly and safely when they go out. Parents should know exactly where their children are; the economic recession has given rise to hundreds of derelict houses right across Northern Ireland, but these are not safe for children and young people, especially when alcohol is involved”.