Rowing club in court to face theft allegations

May 22, 2017

Members of a local rowing club are set to appear before Newry Magistrates’ Court today (Monday) to face allegations of theft in relation to boats and a storage container they had retrieved from a derelict site on the Fathom Line in Newry.

According to a spokesperson for the Carlingford Lough Currach Club (CLCC), club members had moved rowing boats and a container that had been lying in a run-down site known locally as ‘the former oil tanks’ on the canal at Fathom Line, to save them from further disrepair as they were “open to the elements”.  However, soon afterwards, the club was informed by the PSNI that moving the items constituted theft and that they would have to be returned.  The club members consequently did so, however the owner requested that the container be delivered to an address in Co. Louth, instead of being returned to the original site.  Refusing this request as it was “outside of the area of benefit”, the club members were duly charged with theft and will appear in court this morning to protest their innocence.

The CLCC spokesperson contacted The Examiner ahead of the hearing to outline the issue with the following statement: “Carlingford Lough Currach in addition to running the annual International Currach Championships in Warrenpoint now in its 13th year, also deliver a number of outreach programmes with community groups in Newry city, mainly in the water courses of Newry, including the Albert Basin and the Fathom Line.  In one given year it took out over 100 children from areas of multiple deprivation in conjunction with the community associations, assistance from local government and with the support of Newry Maritime Association.

Regrettably when asked, almost two thirds of the children said it was their first time on the water courses of Newry city

“The Club were dismayed that rowing boats were lying in a derelict site known locally as the Former Oil Tanks on The Fathom Line, with boats and containers open to the elements.  When the Club contacted the governing body of rowing they were advised that the nearest club in the area available for rowing was Portadown. This situation seemed to prevail for a number of years and finally at the AGM of Carlingford Lough Currach Club held on 15/3/16 the following was agreed – ‘The redundant rowing boats at The Fathom Line be taken into safe storage to Warrenpoint as there is no club in Newry and there is a danger of theft or damage’.

“The removal took three days over three consecutive Saturdays.  The PSNI contacted our Secretary and advised that this constituted theft and that the boats and the container had to be returned.  The Club reluctantly agreed to the boats being returned but were relieved and delighted that they were not taken back to the original site. In relation to the container, the Club refused to return the container to the original site and were also advised that the owner of the site did not want the boats or container returned to his site because of the liabilities they offered.  The Club would commend the owner for taking this view. The Club were then instructed to deliver the container to an address in Louth in RoI. The Club refused as it was away from Newry and outside of the area of benefit.

“Our Chairman Tom Mc Cann and Secretary Dermot Russell] made voluntary statements on this matter. PPS have agreed to take action and a hearing is scheduled for (today) 22/5/17 at 10.30am.  Although this has been an unwelcome distraction to the Club if this acts as a catalyst for the provision of rowing for old and young in the city of Newry, we will be content.  This water course, a linear path of 7km from the Albert Basin to Victoria Loch on the Fathom Line offers up the best rowing conditions possible and would be the envy of any city or town in Ireland. The opportunities are limitles , such as a schools’ cup sponsored by the private sector, competitions for the 12 community associations in Newry city, summer schemes for all and winter programmes for coaching.”

Members of the rowing club plan gather outside Newry Court House on Monday morning in protest.