Covid-19 test centre targeted by vandals

Covid-19 test centre targeted by vandals

6 October 2021

THE continued operation of a coronavirus test centre in Downpatrick could be compromised if vandal attacks in the area do not end, a local politician fears.

The centre run by the Public Health Agency at Dunleath Park plays a pivotal role in testing people who suspect that they may have contracted the disease.

Concern about the impact of vandalism on the centre comes after it was revealed that a number of iron bars were reportedly thrown towards it by young people who are also being blamed on ongoing anti-social behaviour at this part of the town.

Downpatrick councillor John Trainor said the test centre and the Dunleath Park area had attracted what he described as a “spate of anti-social behavioural elements” which was affecting its operation.

He declared: “There is absolutely no excuse for our public service staff having to feel at risk as they go about their work protecting us and our loved ones.

“There is a danger to test centre staff and their equipment on site at Dunleath Park and the overall operational ability of the centre if this behaviour continues.”

Cllr Trainor said he raised the “serious matter” with police and also appealed to Newry, Mourne and Down Council to direct its community safety wardens to the area in the evenings.

“We also need a greater police presence at Dunleath Park as well and I welcome confirmation that this will happen,” he continued.

“Those engaging in this behaviour can put it behind them and can seek something better. The alternative is to face the unfortunate consequences of their actions which I don’t think is something anyone would want to see.”

Cllr Trainor said ongoing anti-social behaviour has not only impacted on the coronavirus testing centre, but work to provide a new walking track around the perimeter of the town centre park.

“The recent spate of anti-social behaviour threatens to damage the positive work which has been accomplished in the area over recent times and this must not be allowed to happen.

“This has been such a difficult year for everyone and we continue to emerge from Covid, more resilient and ready to see more delivered in our local communities for the better. Part of this includes the new walking path.”

Cllr Trainor said the work to provide the new path is ongoing with people already taking an interest in it.

He added: “I appeal to those responsible for a series of incidents at Dunleath Park to stop what they are doing and realise the consequences of their actions. The testing centre in particular is a key asset in the ongoing fight against coronavirus.

“The excellent frontline staff who work there deserve to be allowed to get on with the job free from threats of any kind. We need these people doing what they are doing as Covid is still with us.”

It has also been confirmed that the South Eastern Trust is hosting local pop-up vaccination clinics over the coming days as part of a Northern Ireland-wide drive to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. Booking is not required for the mobile clinics.

Today, the vaccination bus will be at the Ballymote Health and Wellbeing Centre in Downpatrick to administer first and second dose Moderna vaccines for those over 18 between 11am and 6pm. Those aged 16 and 17 will receive the Pfizer jab.

Tomorrow, the vaccination bus will be outside the Market House in Ballynahinch with the same vaccination regime in operation between 10am and 5pm.

On Friday, the vaccination bus will be at Comber Community Centre at Park Way between 10am and 7pm.