Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Residents vow ‘to reclaim their neighbourhood’

Concerned residents from the Barcroft/Ballybot community gathered in Raymond McCreesh Park in Newry on Friday evening for a public meeting to discuss what they claim is an escalation of anti-social behaviour in the area.

The Barcroft/Ballybot Residents Association (BBRA) called the meeting as part of a community campaign which has included a 1000 leaflet drop, calling on residents to ‘reclaim their neighbourhood’ after a series of disturbing incidents – the most recent being the discovery of a handgun in a bin in the John Martin Street area, close to the Raymond McCreesh play park.  The firearm find came on the back of a separate shocking incident where gunshots were fired at a house in Barcroft Park.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, BBRA spokesperson, Gavin Malone, told The Examiner that the city centre play park and Doran’s Hill area have become “no go areas” due to the level of  anti-social behaviour taking place with youths and adults congregating regularly to use the wooded areas as “drinking dens.”

“If we continue to tolerate what’s going on then quite simply our children will suffer,” he said.

 “We all have a duty of care to stand up and be counted,” said Mr Malone. 

Friday’s meeting drew a huge turnout, with elected representatives among those present.  SDLP Councillor Michael Savage, who has been working with the BBRA in addressing ongoing issues in the area, updated those gathered on the proposed measures to clear overgrowth on the Doran’s Hill, Kiln Street and Raymond Kelly Park areas, where anti-social behaviour has been taking place.

Mr Savage appealed to all groups in the area to work together “to develop positive programmes for young people and to build on the positive work already being done in the area.”

BBRA representative, Gavin Malone, said the PSNI seemed to have significantly increased patrols in the area since the concerns were highlighted, describing the police presence as “great to see.”

“Our community is under siege,” he added, “There are serious problems in our area and we will do our best to make it safe for everyone.”