Northern Ireland news

Call for more action after cars damaged over Halloween in Holylands

Cars had their wing mirrors damaged in the Holylands area of south Belfast on Halloween night. Picture by Bill Smyth
John Monaghan

POLICE have been urged to take more action after wing mirrors were kicked off cars on Halloween night in the Holylands area of south Belfast.

The area near Queen's University, which is predominantly populated by students, has been the scene of anti-social behaviour in recent days.

Many cars - The Irish News counted at least 20 - have been left damaged, with some wing mirrors struck with such force that they completely detached.

Some also had their windscreen wipers damaged.

Police were called after a mattress was set on fire in Agincourt Avenue shortly before 3am on Tuesday, but a large crowd had dispersed by the time officers arrived.

A bonfire was also lit in the area at the weekend and it is understood that one letting agency has evicted tenants as a direct result of disturbances in recent days.

Belfast City Council staff yesterday spent several hours clearing rubbish left strewn across the streets.

Brid Ruddy, from College Park Avenue Residents Association, said residents had been left angered after another Halloween of disruption.

"Police need to be intervening here with the vandalism. It is criminal behaviour," she said.

While there were no arrests, police said three people had been "dealt with" for public order offences, understood to be through community resolution notices.

Community resolution notices can be served on those who have been involved in anti-social behaviour or who have committed perceived less serious offences.

Inspector Duncan McBain said: "What might initially seem like fooling around and having fun can sometimes get out of hand and a criminal record can affect travel, education and employment opportunities in the future".

SDLP South Belfast MLA Claire Hanna said that it was time for those behind the vandalism to "exercise respect for their neighbours".

"I think the universities are investing a lot of time in trying to find out if their students are responsible, but the council, the PSNI and the universities need to be on the ground, pool their resources and use the legislation and the enforcement powers they have in front of them."

Ms Hanna also called on landlords to "take much more responsibility" and said an anti-social behaviour code of conduct was needed.

On Halloween night, the Fire Service attended 136 call-outs across Northern Ireland - down almost a fifth on last year - while police received 3,000 calls between 7pm and midnight.

Fire crews were attacked in Belfast, Armagh, Crossmaglen and Keady. There were no injuries, but one fire appliance was damaged in Keady.

Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan tweeted: "I share the anger and disappointment of many within our community at the news of these attacks on appliances and personnel."

Meanwhile, police have appealed for witnesses after a woman suffered burns when a firework was thrown into her car outside a hotel on Drum Road in Cookstown at around 10.45pm on Sunday.

The firework smashed a side window before rebounding around the car and exploding inside it.

In the early hours of Monday, a firework was thrown at two men in the same area. One suffered burns to the back of his head and police are investigating a link between the two incidents.

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