Call for more police patrols after boat is torched at Maghery

Odhran Robinson pictured with his grandfather, Pat Robinson's burned out fishing boat. INPT24-238.
Odhran Robinson pictured with his grandfather, Pat Robinson's burned out fishing boat. INPT24-238.

A man whose boat was destroyed in an arson attack has said he is just glad no one was hurt.

The boat was torched while berthed at the jetty at Maghery Country Park on the shores of Lough Neagh.

Burnt out boat at Maghery Country Park

Burnt out boat at Maghery Country Park

Pat Robinson said police believe a rag was put into the diesel tank of the boat and set alight.

Pat and a number of other local residents had been at the park for a walk on Saturday evening right up to around 11pm.

He said he had not noticed any unusual activity at that time so the incident must have happened after that.

He added that it is not easy to set a fibre-glass boat alight and it must have taken a deliberate effort to destroy it.

NI Fire and Rescue Service deal with a fire on a boat at Maghery Country Park

NI Fire and Rescue Service deal with a fire on a boat at Maghery Country Park

“A boat can be replaced. I am just glad no one was hurt,” he said. “It’s just sad the people can’t leave things alone.”

He said the boat, which was worth almost £10k was not insured.

Pat added that the park was very popular with locals and visitors from afar. “But if it gets this reputation, people will stop coming,” he said.

SDLP Cllr Declan McAlinden said there has been a surge in anti-social behaviour at the popular park and called for police to be more active in the area.

Boat at Maghery Country Park

Boat at Maghery Country Park

He said: “I want to condemn this latest spat of antisocial behaviour in Maghery Country park.

He described the arson attack as a ‘blatant attempt of unwanted vandalism’.

“The boat was used for pleasure and was completely destroyed by the time the fire brigade arrived.

“This follows a number of incidents in the park recently when a number of youths arrived to camp out all night.

“I contacted PSNI on behalf of the residents who were concerned about the amount of noise being made throughout the night.

“The persons involved had removed boulders and I have requested Council to replace them with larger boulders.

“I will be calling on Council to lock the gate at night to prevent more incidents like this and for the PSNI to be more active in this area especially at weekends, and as summer approaches to prevent a more serious incident happening,” said Cllr McAlinden.

Police in Craigavon said they are aware of recent anti-social behaviour in the park.

Sergeant McMurran said: “On Sunday 11th June, police received the report that a boat had been deliberately set alight in Maghery Country Park. It is disappointing to see, what appears to be, mainly younger people getting involved in anti-social behaviour and causing damage within a local park designed for everyone to enjoy.

“Young people have every right to go about their business and enjoy each other’s company, but I would just like to remind them that what might initially seem like fooling about can sometimes get out of hand and end up in a criminal record which can affect travel, education and employment opportunities in the future. It is really important that young people understand this.

“I am also asking parents and guardians to make sure they know where their young people are, what they are doing, and to talk to them about the danger of getting caught up in the moment and the possible outcomes they could face if they are found committing any offences.

“We will continue to monitor reports of antisocial behaviour in the area and respond appropriately, including focusing patrols in certain areas at particular times. If anyone in the area is concerned about antisocial behaviour or any sort of criminal activity, please contact us on the non-emergency number 101 and let us know so that we can respond appropriately. Alternatively information can be provided anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”