Antrim playpark forced to close following ‘callous’ arson attack

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Callous vandals have been condemned for an arson attack which has “robbed the local community” of a local playpark.

The slide at Dunlop Park in Antrim’s Ballycraigy estate was set on fire on Friday causing extensive damage.

The play area is now closed to the public while the damage is assessed.

At this stage it is too early to say when the park will be reopened or what the cost of repair will be.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor Thomas Hogg said: “Named after former Alderman and Mayor of Antrim Borough, Sam Dunlop, this play park is a vital resource for the area and has been enjoyed by many children in the local community since it opened in 2010.”

Alderman John Smyth, Chair of Operations Committee for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council echoed the Mayor’s sentiments: “This act of vandalism will have a devastating impact for both parents and children throughout the summer months. I would appeal to anyone in the local area who has any information to contact the PSNI.”

Councillor Drew Ritchie said it was “difficult to understand the mindset” of someone who would deliberately burn and destroy a slide that give so much enjoyment to children of all ages.

“I know the local community and the many other people who bring their children to the park will be sickened at the destruction to the slide,” Cllr. Ritchie said.

He added: “Someone must know who is responsible for the criminal damage to the park equipment

and it’s important those responsible are identified to allow the park to continue to function normally.”

Fellow Antrim town Councillor Jim Montgomery - who along with Cllr. Ritchie and South Antrim MLA Adrian Watson visited the site on Saturday - said those responsible for the vandalism were robbing the local community.

“They are denying local children from a valuable resource, particularly over the summer months,” Cllr. Montgomery said.

South Antrim MLA Adrian Watson added his condemnation and said the ratepayers will bear the brunt of the vandals’ actions.

“The cost of repairing the playpark will fall firmly on the ratepayer,” Mr Watson said.

He added: “Those responsible are robbing the local community; robbing the local community of this much-used facility, and meaning ratepayers will have to pick up the tab to repair the playpark, which could run into hundreds, it not thousands, of pounds.

“These callous individuals have no thought on how their actions will impact on others.”

The multi-use games area and 3G pitch can still be accessed through Muckamore Community Centre which remains open.

Anyone with information on the arson attack on the playpark is asked to contact Antrim Police on 101.