Under siege OAPS just want to live in peace

Two youths stranded on roof just the latest incident

By Kieran Hughes

Drug taking, verbal abuse and vandalism by a small group of youths, some as young as 11-years-old, is at its worst level in over thirty years, exasperated New Lodge residents have said. People living in Duncairn Parade say a specific group of youths have been torturing residents, including pensioners, for months by climbing on to the roof of their maisonettes to take drugs, scrawl graffiti and hurl missiles and verbal abuse.

On Sunday night (April 22) fire crews had to rescue two youths, one aged only 11-years-old and the other 13, from the roof after getting stranded.

There is no evidence that the two youths rescued were involved in drug taking or other illegal activity.

However residents, some of whom have lived in the street for 40 years, say they just want to live in peace and are calling on police to address the matter.

“This is as bad as it has been since I have been here,” said Kathleen Craig who has been living in the street for 32 years.

“Most people living here just want to live their lives without having to worry. There are neighbours around here who won’t come out because they are afraid.”

Another resident, Geraldine Dale, called on the youths’ parents to address the matter.

“These kids don’t fear residents, they don’t fear police, they don’t fear Sinn Féin, they don’t fear anybody and that’s the problem. The parents need to step up and know what their kids are up to. This isn’t kids who have lost their ball or are up to a bit of mischief, this is much more sinister and it needs to stop.”

Local Sinn Féin councillor Conor Maskey said residents are due to meet with the New Lodge Safer Streets group and police on Monday to air their concerns.

“This is about the authorities stepping up to the mark and making sure residents go back to having a proper quality of life,” he said.

“The New Lodge Safer Street group and myself will play a role in making sure that happens, but it has to be a collective voice so that is why it is important that residents come on Monday and air their concerns and an action plan put in place.”

A PSNI spokeswoman said they are working with the local community, elected representatives and other statutory agencies to implement a control strategy linked to “a number of key individuals”.

“A comprehensive log of incidents is being developed to support the intervention,” she said.

“To ensure that this approach is as effective as possible, police would encourage local residents to report any incidents of anti-social behaviour in the area to York Road Neighbourhood Policing Team on 0845 600 8000.

“Further multi-agency meetings are scheduled to take place this week and police officers will be in attendance at these.”

 

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