A video of children lobbing dangerously explosive fireworks at a Craigavon youth club has been broadcast on social media.
The video, published by Meadowbrook residents group and shared by the PSNI, shows young children firing the devices at Tullygally Youth Club.
Writing on the PSNI Facebook page, police said: “We’ve warned about fireworks, we’ve asked you to step up and make sure you know what your kids are doing.
“These aren’t sparklers, they aren’t kids toys. They’re explosives. This video was posted on Friday evening and appears to show young teenagers playing with fireworks, throwing them at a youth club.
“We need 2 things: Don’t complain that we didn’t warn you when you get a knock on your door from us telling you your child is lying in hospital with, at best, life changing injuries and
“Tell us who is selling these fireworks. The fact that we’ve not had horrendous injuries so far this year is nothing short of a miracle. These things are dangerous, cheap imports which can cause horrific damage to a child.
“If you know who is selling them, let us know.”
And elsewhere across Lurgan, kids armed with dangerous fireworks are terrorising entire communities with police and community leaders demanding parents take action.
Children have been spotted flinging fireworks, causing fires and frightening residents and pedestrians in Shankill, Taghnevan, Mourneview and Craigavon.
The NI Fire and Rescue Service had to deal with a number of fires this week after incidents near the shops in Taghnevan on Monday night.
After youths lobbed fireworks at Tullygally Youth Club, they were forced to close for the children’s safety.
PSNI Sector Inspector Brian Mills said there would be a clampdown on illegal fireworks. “We are proactively investigating suppliers, particularly via social media,” he said.
“These young people are tormenting the community but worryingly they could lose an eye or worse,” he said and called on parents to make sure children don’t have access to fireworks
Sinn Fein Cllr Catherine Nelson revealed that around a dozen youths were letting off fireworks in the playpark at CIDO in Shankill on Monday night.
“Last week Meadowbrook residents were unable to access their community centre. This week Shankill residents were unable to access their local shop. Residents are terrified. This has to stop,” she said, adding that the fireworks were being used in an ‘intimidatory manner’.
DUP MLA Carla Lockhart said residents feel under siege with the number of fireworks being set off by gangs of youths and raised it with police.
“This cuts right across areas and communities with complaints coming to me from Mourneview, Taghnevan and north Lurgan. It is imperative that the police clamp down on these illegal fireworks, they are not only a nuisance to neighbourhoods but highly dangerous and could cause severe injury or worse. I know that the PSNI are taking robust action with online selling of illegal fireworks so I would encourage the public to come forward with information if they have some regarding illegal activity. I would also ask parents to speak with their children and young people to discourage them from this careless activity.
“My biggest concern is the safety not only of the young people but also the people who are being tortured in their homes.”
SDLP representative Ciaran Toman has urged the public to use fireworks responsibly.
Mr Toman said: “It is concerning that the PSNI reported that fires were started after fireworks were thrown at each other and at occupied homes late at night to provoke a reaction from residents.
“With a further four weeks until Halloween, I would urge the public to use fireworks in a responsible manner and only buy them from official sources. Sadly, there are sellers out there with no regard to the local community and will continue to operate in this illegal trade.
“I call on those engaged in this type of activity to stop and reflect on how their actions can cause serious injuries or harm. The festivities of Halloween should be enjoyed by all, not to have an effect that residents in your own community feel frightened to leave their own home.”
Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said: “Fireworks are explosives. They may be designed for use by the public but their use should be in accordance with the instructions contained on them, any deviation endangers life and limb not just of the user but those who may be in the area.
“The news that youths in the Shankill and Taghnevan areas of Lurgan are torturing the community and police with fireworks shows just how they have little regard for the safety of those they well call neighbours. This is no joke, this is not harmless fun, this is not about doing what we have always done. This is about putting people’s lives in danger; children, older people, men and women going about their business trying to live their lives in peace.
“I would ask that those who see fireworks ensure those purchasing them are not only of the legal age to do so but that the intended use of the fireworks is as they were designed. Those who have children who may be involved in what can only be described as anti-social and dangerous behaviour, disruption and destruction must take action to prevent your child putting their lives and others in danger. Until people take responsibility then behaviour like this will continue.”