Troublemakers could force closure of trails

Troublemakers could force closure of trails

9 May 2018

ACCESS to picturesque trails at the Tobar Mhuire retreat in Crossgar could be curtailed due to an increase in anti-social behaviour.

The warning has been issued by the Passionist Community based at the retreat and conference centre, which is located off the Downpatrick Road, following an increase in weekend trouble.

There have been reports of underage drinking in the grounds, with young people playing loud music and setting fire to trees on Friday and Saturday evenings in particular.

The Passionist Community provides free access to the trails for the benefit of the local community and has warned it would be a “tragedy” if this had to be curtailed due to the behaviour of what is believed to be a small number of people.

Police have been informed and Tobar Mhuire officials have confirmed that if they are made aware of the identity of the troublemakers, their names will be passed to the authorities “in order to ensure the continuing peace, tranquillity and safety of the grounds for the community.”

Local people who may be aware of those causing trouble are also being asked to pass any information they have to the PSNI or leave the information at Tobar Mhuire reception. An appeal has been issued not to post anyone’s name on social media platforms.

The Passionist Community insists no one has the right to drink alcohol on any of the trails and in a Facebook message, Fr Tom Scanlon, said Tobar Mhuire is a place shared with the public, with people making use of its trails and bringing along their families and pets.

“Young people are congregating on a Friday and Saturday evening, drinking underage and wreaking havoc, setting fires and playing loud music. 

“This place depends on providing to the public and our guests, a haven of peace and quiet. This is not helping our work and not helping our aim to let our grounds be used by the public,” said the priest.

He added: “We would appreciate your help and support in eliminating this problem and appeal especially to parents and to those concerned about youths that you would help us maintain this place so that we can continue making it available and not have us seek other recourses, such as reducing access.”

Rowallane councillors Terry Andrews and Billy Walker have also appeal to young people to respect the grounds of Tobar Mhuire, in particular, the trails which are used by many local people.

“No one wants to see this kind of behaviour and if it continues it could lead to public access to a beautifully peaceful and tranquil area being restricted. That would be disappointing and I would appeal to those responsible for the trouble to stop what they are doing,” said Cllr Andrews.

“We are fortunate to have The Passionist Community living among us in Crossgar and we all hope the anti-social behaviour will end. What’s been happening is completely unacceptable and does nothing to enhance the village’s image.”

Cllr Andrews also appealed to anyone with information about who may be involved in the trouble within the grounds of Tobar Mhuire to pass it on to the authorities.

Cllr Walker said he was “shocked” to learn of the trouble in Crossgar and hoped those involved “will come to their senses.” He said young people should not be desecrating religious property and show more respect.

He added: “It is important everyone condemns what has been happening, pledges their continuing support for The Passionist Community and does all they can to bring an end to this trouble.

“It is particularly worrying that underage children are drinking alcohol and setting fires to trees. Such a heady cocktail could lead to a major incident. This trouble must stop.”