Councillor punched and kicked by thugs

Councillor punched and kicked by thugs

6 February 2019

A DOWNPATRICK councillor was knocked down to the ground by young local thugs and kicked to the head while defending a resident.

Independent councillor Cadogan Enright is now calling for an end to the increasing anti-social scourge which is dominating certain areas by the permanent closure of lanes at Russell Park and Hunters Mill which are used as drinking dens.

He handed over a petition to PSNI Inspector Darren Hardy yesterday which was signed by over 90% of residents calling for the closure of a lane into Russell Park to be made permanent.

Cllr Enright was attacked by at least three youths — one of them a female— around 8.30pm on Saturday, January 26.

He received medical attention at the Royal Victoria Hospital’s emergency department for cuts and bruising but was not seriously injured.

Police last night confirmed that an 18 year-old male and an 18 year-old female had been arrested on suspicion of common assault following the incident.

The suspects were interviewed and subsequently released on police bail pending further enquiries.

Cllr Enright had been returning from a day’s rowing at Strangford when he received calls from several frightened Russell Park residents.

A gang of youths had broken windows in three homes on Friday night.

The householders were then “subjected to frightening and hostile behaviour” throughout Saturday by the gang.

Cllr Enright told the Recorder that the abuse was also directed at his daughter and particularly at a householder who has children with disabilities.

While he tried to intervene and tell the group to “clear off”, events took a nasty turn when he spotted one of youths about to hit a resident with a bottle.

“It was getting to the point when they were saying ‘I know who you are. We’ll have you shot’.

“They were about to hit a resident with a bottle. I was standing behind and grabbed it out of the hand of one of them and threw it away. Then I got attacked.”

Cllr Enright said that he protected his head with his hands as he was kicked while on the ground.

“I think it lasted it for about a minute. I hid behind my daughter’s car and then climbed over a garden fence to get away,” he admitted. 

“I couldn’t stand back and do nothing. There were people clearly alarmed on both sides of the street and the police had not arrived yet.”

He added that he has never been being attacked like this before in his life.

Cllr Enright gave a statement to police which resulted in the three arrests.

“All the time I was making statements the same small gang stood outside the garden screaming death threats, with the police watching them rather than arresting them.”

However, Cllr Enright has praised the PSNI for its promise to treat St Patrick’s Centre to Russell Park and Dunleath Park as its “default patrol area” in the immediate future.

He has been at the forefront of a campaign to highlight the increasing incidence of anti-social behaviour affecting businesses, business owners and residents over the last five months.

Cllr Enright also praised the Housing Executive for erecting a gate in Russell Park.

He added: “I have arranged with Colin McGrath MLA, Chris Hazzard MP and residents and business people to show solidarity with the people of Thomas Russell Park on Friday at 11am to demand the gating off of the three laneways which facilitate the beer dens and escape routes for this gang. 

“Residents have been trying to get them gated off for many years. Now at last something will be done.”

Inspector Darren Hardy has called on parents to take “an active role in their children’s lives and to know where they are, who they are with and what they are doing”

He said:  “The support of local people, community and voluntary representatives, and particularly the parents of young people frequenting the area, are essential ingredients to help improve the quality of life for the local residents.”

Sinn Féin’s Chris Hazzard MP strongly condemned what he described as the “shameful attack” on Cllr Enright.

The South Down MP said: “What he has endured is absolutely shameful — and I would call on anybody with any information in relation to this incident to come forward to the authorities immediately. 

“Over the last number of months residents in English Street, Stream Street and Russel Park — as well as businesses in the town centre — have endured unacceptable anti-social attacks and nuisance behaviour from a small group of people.  

“Sinn Féin representatives have joined other political parties and the wider Downpatrick community in condemning this activity, and have repeatedly called on the PSNI to get to grips with this ongoing scourge.”