Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Wetland arsonists thought to be behind local graffiti

Extensive damage was caused at Balloo Wetlands Centre in Bangor recently
The graffiti which was seen at Balloo and has also been spotted across Bangor

Arsonists who targeted Balloo Wetland Centre in Bangor recently are thought to be behind anti-social graffiti in the town.

A bird shed at the wetland centre was burnt out on October 9 at a cost of approximately £10,000.

Graffiti was also written at various signs within the park including a signature ‘EMi’ which looked to have been created using a stencil.

This same signature has also been seen across Bangor in recent weeks on road signs, walls and other buildings.

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said police were aware of the graffiti and were investigating the matter which they believe is being “carried out by a number of individuals”.

Councillor Alex Easton said those behind the attack at Balloo were “irresponsible”.

“This facility offered an education and recreational opportunity — it developed the new wetlands here and allowed bird watchers to comfortably and safely enjoy their past time in an environment that was safe for the birdlife. I find it horribly depressing that it has been burned down,” Mr Easton said.

“The opportunity that it afforded local people here to enjoy the wetlands is temporarily lost and for what I ask? What purpose is served by burning down a facility?

“Of course it can be replaced and we would want that to happen — but don’t forget to replace costs money — your money, (and) at times when we want to be judicious about spending from the public purse.”

Ross Towers, Ulster Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves manager, said it was “completely disheartening to see such a loved local amenity and wildlife haven vandalised in such a way”.

“This act of vandalism is totally inexcusable,” he said.

“Many thousands of people have enjoyed the new nature reserve in Bangor since its creation last year, and it is appalling that a small minority have spoilt the site for everyone else.

“I would strongly encourage anyone with any information concerning this act, or if they see any suspicious activity on the site, to contact the police.

“Despite the damage to the birdhide, the wetland is open to the public as usual and we would like to assure visitors that we will be getting the birdhide repaired as soon as possible.”

PSNI Neighbourhood Inspector Julie Blain said police would work hard to bring those responsible for the damage at Ballooo and the graffiti throughout the town before the courts.

“We are determined to identify those behind these incidents to bring them to justice. Police are also determined to ensure that anti-social behaviour does not adversely impact on the facilities enjoyed by the community,” she said.

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