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Parents must take responsibility for children involved in anti-social behaviour

The level of anti-social behaviour in the Falls Road area of west Belfast continues to cause deep concern with young people clearly feeling they can do whatever they like, regardless of the consequences.

We have seen tourists visiting the International Wall in Albert Street targeted, local residents terrorised and property stolen and damaged by criminal elements.

It seems that no one is off limits to the young thugs and no place is regarded as sacred.

This is abundantly clear following the latest incident which saw a flare set off inside Clonard monastery, causing scorch damage to the mosaic floor of the shrine to St Gerard Majella.

This attack, which took place last Friday, took place in full view of visitors to the church, which is currently preparing for a huge influx of worshippers to the annual solemn novena due to begin on June 14.

Just before they entered the church, the culprits also set off a flare in the grounds of the monastery.

What is particularly disturbing is that the perpetrators of this attack were very young, aged from just eight to 12 years.

They made no attempt to cover their faces and appeared to be `completely brazen' in the words of Clonard Rector Fr Noel Kehoe.

He is worried about the welfare of these youngsters, the fact that they have access to flares which could potentially cause serious injury and asked if their parents are aware of what they are up to.

Certainly, parents have a crucial role to play in ensuring their children are not engaging in vandalism or any other criminal activity.

It is shocking to think that children as young as eight are running around with flares and setting them off in churches or anywhere else and surely parents should be alarmed that this is happening.

At the very least they should know where their children are, make sure they are safe and not causing trouble to others.

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