Youths urged to end anti-social behaviour

Youths urged to end anti-social behaviour

15 September 2021

APPEALS have been made for an end to anti-social behaviour at St Paul’s Parish Church in Castlewellan.

Youths congregating at the entrance to the Annesley family vault at the church located at Mill Hill have been urged to stay away and stop desecrating the Church of Ireland building.

Plastic bottles adapted for taking drugs were discovered at the entrance to the vault.

The appeal for the anti-social behaviour to stop issued by Slieve Croob councillor Alan Lewis, who is also urging young people involved to think about the consequences of their actions.

He visited the church last week and met with congregation member David Radcliffe.

Afterwards he said he was “astonished” to see the amount of litter, empty beer tins and drugs paraphernalia lying around.

Cllr Lewis said young people have been congregating around the steps at the church which lead to the entrance of the Annesley family vault. 

“Not only is this extreme anti-social behaviour, it is a desecration of the reverence which should be shown to the dead and their final resting place,” he continued.

“I am absolutely disgusted that common sense has not kicked in. Those responsible surely aren’t totally void of moral responsibility and oblivious to the fact that they are effectively partying on the graves of the deceased? There is no excuse for this shameless, disrespectful idiocy.”

Cllr Lewis said the church’s select vestry neither has the time nor resources to continually waste on repairing the damage caused by the young people, appealing for it to stop.

“Are those responsible for this behaviour bored?” he asked. “Do they need help in securing resources for extra activities in the area and what is it that they want to be at? Please tell me why they feel the need to stand drinking behind a church. I am at a loss as to what type of individuals would do this.”

He said he was open to meeting with those responsible in order to direct their frustrations elsewhere, rather than continue creating what he described as “idiotic vandalism”.

Insisting that he does not hold grudges, Cllr Lewis said he wanted to find a solution to the issue.

He said if there was some type of recreational activity that young people would like funded, he would be keen to hear from them.

“Let’s have a chat by all means, but this blatant, indiscriminate and petty vandalism must stop immediately. It is disheartening and disappointing to see this type of behaviour. It is senseless, idiotic vandalism,” he declared.

“I am aware that there have been anti-social behaviour issues within Castlewellan and that the district’s Policing and Community Safety Partnership is working towards a solution. Newry, Mourne and Down Council wardens are also on patrol in the town and I have asked that they be directed towards St Paul’s Church.”

Cllr Lewis said he was working with local police who have confirmed that they routinely enter church grounds to check and secure them, confirming that he plans to speak with Education Authority officials who own a site adjacent to the church to discuss how better to secure the entry points which are being used by young people access church property.