Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Child and grandmother badly shaken in stone-throwing attack

The latest stone-throwing attack on traffic along the Camlough Road into Newry has left a Derrybeg grandmother and her grandson badly shaken after youths smashed the rear windscreen of her vehicle as she travelled towards her home last Monday afternoon.

The woman has spoken of her shock and anger at being caught up in the onslaught which saw a gang of youths launch a barrage of missiles at oncoming traffic from their vantage point in Parkhead.  The incident is the latest in a spate of these attacks to take place against vehicles along stretches of both the Carnagat Road and Camlough Road which have been met with widespread condemnation from local political representatives and community groups.

Warning of the deadly consequences of such attacks, the Derrybeg victim called for tougher action to be taken to sort out the ongoing problem which she said should no longer be tolerated.

The rise in such incidents has been highlighted by both the Carnagat Community Association and the Derrybeg Community Association in recent months with their members and local residents holding silent protests to demonstrate the strength of feeling in the local community against the dangerous attacks.  The Carnagat Community Association has consistently appealed to the perpetrators to stop before a serious crash occurs and in April two men aged 19 and 20 were charged with riotous behaviour and attempted criminal damage relating to stone-throwing incidents in the area where a number of vehicles were damaged.

Despite public protests and the work of the Carnagat CA in conjunction with statutory bodies including the NIHE, PSNI and Translink to stop the stone throwing attacks, the incidents have increased in recent weeks and local residents are calling for more police patrols in the area as well as stricter parental control to bring the attacks to an end.

Sinn Fein Councillor Charlie Casey told The Examiner the issue was “a real concern for us all and it’s an issue that I think hasn’t been properly addressed.”

“There is real potential for serious injury or even a fatality,” he said, adding that both communities of Carnagat and Derrybeg and have been very proactive in tackling the problem.

“Myself and other Councillors stood with the Community on nightly vigils to try and deter the stone throwers.  “Initially a hundred people turned out in silent protest and this coupled with the fact there were two arrests seemed to stop the attacks for a while.

“Recently there have been a number of further attacks emanating from both sides of the Camlough Road.”

The Newry Councillor revealed he has met with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the PSNI, Community Restorative Justice and the Community Associations to initiate some intervention with the youth of the area and he has been contacted by senior Translink officials locally “to help them build on previous initiatives and to try and liaise with Community Associations.”

“There have been a number of frightening incidents where people have been injured with cars, taxis, buses and delivery lorries all being randomly attacked,” said Mr Casey.

“The big fear is that someone will be killed – if a driver of a full bus suffers a direct hit he could lose control of the vehicle,” he warned before calling on the local PSNI to be more proactive and carry out more patrols in the area.

“If people seen throwing stones at passing traffic are identified, they should be taken to task over it.”

The PSNI has appealed for information following last Monday’s attack which happened around 3.40pm and resulted in damage to the Derrybeg grandmother’s black Seat Leon and another vehicle, a red Peugeot 307.

A police spokesperson said: “This incident could have had much more serious consequences. Those who are taking part in this type of activity need to appreciate just how dangerous throwing stones at moving vehicles can be. Even a small stone can shatter a windscreen, obstruct the view of the driver and cause a collision that can result in serious injury, or even death.

“I am asking parents to explain the dangers of stone throwing and even the dangers of being so close to such a busy road to your child. Please check on your children, make them check-in with you regularly, and help us avoid a serious tragedy.”

Anyone who has information in relation to this incident is asked to contact Police in Newry on 101, quoting ref: 819 150615.