Concerns raised following Camlough Lake boat sabotage

July 29, 2013

An incident involving the malicious damage of boats belonging to Queen’s University rowers, who been regularly using Camlough Lake for their training sessions in recent months, has raised concerns that future investment in the area and its many sporting events could be negatively impacted.

On 6th July the Queen’s University Rowing Club had secured their boats in a locked yard on the Newtown Road in Camlough, after an afternoon training session on Camlough Lake.  Upon taking the boats out the following morning, the team discovered holes had been drilled into both boats, greatly compromising the safety of their users and costing thousands of pounds to repair.

The team maintain they had been informed on the Saturday that they did not have permission to be on the lake and negotiated by changing their time to avoid getting in the way of other activities in the water.   However before their afternoon session, members of the team claim they were verbally abused by man who protested about rowers using the lake.

Following the sabotage of the £30,000 boats, the rowers have pledged they will not return to Camlough Lake as they are concerned for their safety and that of their boats and equipment. Despite high praise for the lake itself and the hearty welcome they have received from local people, the group say they simply cannot run the risk of any further damage, as the cost of repairing the boats ran to almost £4,000.

A spokesperson for the team indicated that the malicious incident may hamper the area’s chances of benefiting from the creation of a multi-watersport facility as part of the £17.5 million available from the Olympic legacy.

Commenting on the incident, Catherine Murphy, founding member of the Crooked Lake Triathlon and a member of the committee for the Camlough Lake Water Festival said she hoped the efforts of the community over the last number of years in drawing worldwide attention and visitors to the area through the various festivals and sporting events, would not be destroyed by the sabotage.

Speaking to The Examiner about the situation, Catherine said, “The local community have put a huge amount of voluntary effort into making the fantastic resource that is Camlough Lake an attractive and welcoming place for everyone.

“We have hosted an enormous amount of sporting and community events, including triathlons, distance swimming, water festivals and world record swimming that have attracted visitors from all over Ireland, Britain and further afield.

“Visitors and competitors to our events remark at how friendly and welcoming we are. It would be a great shame if this isolated incident had a negative impact on that reputation and any future investment in the lake and sporting events there.”

Both the PSNI and Newry and Mourne District Council have confirmed they are investigating the matter.