Criticism of trouble on Garvaghy Road

Councillor Gemma McKenna
Councillor Gemma McKenna

Part of the Garvaghy Road was closed for a period on Tuesday night after a number of youths set fire to a mattress and three wheelie bins.

Petrol bombs and a brick were also thrown at police before calm was restored.

Police said the trouble began just before 10pm, when the mattress was set alight, blocking the road to traffic.

A spokesperson said police closed this section of the Garvaghy Road for the safety of oncoming traffic, and it was reopened just after 11pm.

Sinn Féin councillor Gemma McKenna described the incident as “nothing more than anti-community activity” and said the efforts of a minority to cause trouble had caused annoyance to the local community.

She said they had achieved only the disruption of their own community and neighbours.

“Those involved may not understand that this community did suffer for many decades, stood up for itself and moved forward,” she added. “Resident groups, sporting and youth groups and others have worked tirelessly to secure resources and develop north west Portadown throughout the years.

“The anti-community actions of a few will not tarnish the name of this entire community.”

Lord Mayor of ABC Council, Councillor Darryn Causby, who visited the scene, condemned the way in which the incident was handled and said police should have been dealing with the trouble-makers rather than redirecting traffic.

He also compared their “softly softly approach” to the police response in Corcrain two years ago when he was arrested during a flag protest.

Mr Causby, who always maintained he was in the area as a public representative to help maintain calm, was informed last week that the Public Prosecution Service did not intend to proceed with a case against him.

Meanwhile, Inspector Duncan McBain said young people should be aware of the consequences of anti-social behaviour and the effect it can have on the everyday lives of residents in the local community.

He said, “Throwing objects near passing traffic is also a very dangerous activity. If a bottle or stone were to hit a passing vehicle it could shatter the windscreen, injure the driver or cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. You might think that it is just fooling around but it can result in a serious incident or a criminal record which can affect your travel, education and employment opportunities in the future.

“I would ask parents and others with influence to support us in educating teenagers about what is and is not acceptable behaviour.”