West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

United community response not vigilantism should be response to anti-social behaviour problem plaguing residents of Ballycolman and Bridge Street

Published: 12 September, 2011

He was speaking following the weekend incident when a group of young people were confronted by a group of armed and masked men at the play area in the Ballycolman Estate and ordered to get out of the area.
Cllr Mc Mahon said,
"The fact that two young girls, who have had absolutely no involvement in any of the anti-social behaviour activities currently plaguing the Ballycolman and Bridgend areas, have been left deeply traumatized after being confronted and threatened by masked and armed men on Saturday night is evidence in itself that vigilantism offers no solutions in addressing this issue. There are no quick fix solutions and, as Saturday nights incident shows, this type of indiscriminate approach just creates more problems and hardship.
"A hardcore group of about 5 teenage boys are at the centre of all the mayhem and misery that is being visited upon local residents in both areas and are using a wider group of around 15 other 'hangers on' as cover to engage in their anti-community onslaught. Cars and property are being damaged, local residents are being intimidated and verbally abused on a regular basis when this group assume a pack mentality and sling shots are the latest weapons that the hard core of this group have been using against the local community in recent days.
"There are high proportion of elderly residents in both the Ballycolman and Bridgend and the activities of this group have become so bad that many are now afraid to go near the local shops and staff of Davy's Shop and the adjoining local chemist in the Ballycolman and Mc Fadden's Shop in the Bridgend are bearing the brunt of much of this activity. People in both areas are at their wits end and want this anti-social activity to stop and want to be left in peace.
"We need a United Community Response and one idea which a few people have discussed with me and which I believe holds merit, would be to hold a community protest vigil to send out a clear message to those who have been torturing people in the Ballycolman and Bridgend that their activities are no longer acceptable. It would be more difficult for this group to continue with their activities if they see the community standing united, in strength of numbers, in opposition to what they are doing.
"Statutory agencies must also step up to the plate on this issue. For example, I am aware that the names of the worst troublemakers have been with the PSNI for some time now so local people are asking why no action is being taken to against them. Moreover, I have been told that a number of the hardcore group behind this trouble are already in Youth Justice Programmes so questions must be asked as to why their activities are not being monitored more fully. ENDS