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Sir James Craig Play Park: PSNI probe into Rathcoole children’s facility damage

A Newtownabbey play park renamed during Northern Ireland centenary celebrations has been targeted by vandals.

Police are investigating the attack at the Sir James Craig Play Park at Derrycoole Way, Rathcoole, during which a section of the swings area was damaged.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Council said it received a report around 6.30pm on Wednesday (June 22) that damage had been caused to the site.

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A council spokesperson added: “The park was closed later that evening while the extent of the damage was assessed. An area of wet pour safety surfacing – measuring 7m x 2m - below two children’s swings had been ripped up, burned and thrown around the park.

Macedon Councillor Matthew Brady and Phillip Brett MLA beside the damaged children's swings area.

“The damaged area has been cordoned off and sealed until repairs can be carried out, but the rest of the park remains open to the public. At this stage the cost of the damage is unknown, as the council is carrying out a procurement exercise for the repair works.”

DUP MLA Phillip Brett expressed disappointment at the incident and appealed for anyone with information to contact the PSNI.

Mr Brett said: “It is extremely frustrating to see the extent of intentional damage caused to children’s play equipment. Sir James Craig Park has seen significant investment over recent years and is well utilised by the local community. This type of mindless criminal damage flies in the face of efforts of many groups in the area who continue to work hard to deliver physical improvements, funding and better facilities for all the people of Rathcoole.”

Following a visit to the site with party colleague, Macedon Councillor Matthew Brady, he added: “We have asked the council carry out repairs as soon as possible and have highlighted concerns of the local community regarding anti-social behaviour in the area with the PSNI. It is highly disappointing that this section of the play area will be closed off for some time and repairs will come at a significant cost to the borough council.”

Police are appealing for information after vandals struck at the Rathcoole site.

Previously known as Rathcoole People’s Park, the facility was renamed the Sir James Craig Play Park last year as part of the council’s Northern Ireland centenary commemorations.

Cllr Brady said: “This children’s play area is very popular for local families, all of whom are disgusted by the latest vandalism of their park. I would urge those who were involved to respect their local community, respect their neighbours who enjoy this play area and to rethink their actions.”

Public Purse

Appealing for information, a PSNI Antrim and Newtownabbey spokesperson said: “As well as cost to the public purse, damage such as this deprives the community of resources which are for the enjoyment of all, particularly when this park caters to the needs of so many with particular sensory needs.

“I would ask that anyone with information regarding the incident make contact with police directly or anonymously through the Crimestoppers Charity 0800555111 / crimestoppers-uk.org giving PSNI reference CW1669 22.6.22.”

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