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Arsonists destroy refurbished play park

Eddie Craig (left) and Paul Teggart (right) from the Crossgar Community Association pictured with Margaret Ritchie MP and Councillor Terry Andrews at a damaged play park in Crossgar. Picture by Ann McManus

ARSONISTS destroyed a play park less than a year after it was refurbished.

A tyre was set alight at the park on Downpatrick Street in Crossgar on Saturday night, destroying play equipment, a bench and a rubber playing surface.

The attack caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage.

Less than a year ago, the park underwent a £130,000 refurbishment.

Police appealed to anyone who saw people acting suspiciously around the park, or who saw anyone with a tyre, to contact them.

SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said the attack was "utterly shameful".

"Those behind this attack either do not understand or care that local councils are running a tight budget and cannot easily afford to replace facilities such as the one they destroyed," she said.

"This incident of mindless vandalism has carried a great cost for local children who will be deprived of active outdoor play until the play-park can be restored.

"I call on anyone who has any information that could lead to those responsible to please contact the PSNI by phoning 101. I also call on the council to ensure that it is not children who are punished by this contemptible act by ensuring that the play-park is repaired as soon as possible."

South Down assembly member Chris Hazzard said the attack was a "despicable act of vandalism on a very popular and much needed play facility in Crossgar".

"Whoever set the park ablaze obviously showed absolutely regard for local families or their local area," he said.

"Anyone with information on this attack should bring it forward to to PSNI.

"I hope the authorities can now carry out a speedy and thorough investigation so that we can bring the perpetrators to justice and the village can have the facilities restored as soon as possible."

The attack comes after a shot was fired in a west Belfast play park earlier this month.

Frightened children raised the alarm after a shot was fired into the air at a play park on Dover Street, just off the Shankill Road, on July 2.

A 34-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man were later remanded into custody charged in connection with the shot.

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