18/09/2002

Vandals destroy new sports facility before opening

A series of sustained attacks on a new sports facility, before it has even opened its doors, have left it completely unusable Belfast City Council confirmed today.

Over the summer months, vandals caused an estimated £10,000-worth of damage to the brand new £200,000 pavilion at Woodlands Playing Fields in Finaghy, which was only completed at the beginning of July.

The Council is also having to spend up to £15,000 installing new security fencing in a bid to prevent further destruction.

Councillor Margaret Crooks, Chair of the Council’s Parks and Amenities Sub-Committee, today condemned what she described as “a premeditated and concentrated campaign of destruction”.

The attacks on the pavilion, which is owned by Belfast City Council and was to have been managed by St Agnes GAC on behalf of the South Antrim Board of the GAA, started almost as soon as building work was completed.

Belfast City Council has taken steps to secure the building, including welding steel plates across all the windows, but the facility will not be opened again until full repairs have been carried out and palisade-type security fencing installed around the perimeter.

Councillor Crooks said: “This was a wanton campaign carried out by hooligans intent on premeditated destruction – a campaign that has left this magnificent facility, so appreciated by the local sporting community, now totally unusable.

“Belfast City Council has finite resources for providing recreational and sports facilities for the enjoyment of the vast majority of the people of the City, and there are many demands placed upon these resources. It is almost inevitable that some of these demands now may not be met as we have to meet the cost of repairing this destruction.”

(MB)

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