Belfast Telegraph

Gates smashed and bins trashed as young farmers go on rampage

By Nevin Farrell

A businessman has called for an annual Young Farmers' Club (YFC) barbecue in the Orchard County to be scrapped after police were called in following a string of complaints.

Don Woolsey, who runs Scotch Street Filling Station and Mace store outside Portadown, condemned the antics of some late-night revellers who were part of an estimated 500-strong crowd that flocked to the Collone YFC barbecue and dance.

The Co Armagh man was left with a massive clean-up operation after party-goers dumped their empty drink bottles and litter on his forecourt.

In another incident, a gate was smashed and a pony escaped from a field and a homeowner had guttering removed from their house.

A farm also had tyres taken from a silo and thrown onto the road.

Mr Woolsey said: "When I was closing up, the buses had lined up in our car park.

"I saw four smaller buses and one large bus, and they said they were going to sit there until 1am.

"The next day we were faced with awful litter, a lot of empty bottles and general litter. A sign was knocked over and flowers were pulled up and strewn about."

Mr Woolsey believes that people had been bussed in from outside the area.

"There was too much drink in and wit out, and I don't want to see this event happening next year," he added.

Richmount Rural Community Association chairman Joe Garvey said that locals were "appalled at the extent of the noise, the vandalism, the drunkenness and rowdy behaviour" at the barbecue and dance, which were held at a field on the Annagorra Road last weekend.

A resident who did not wish to be named added: "They were drunk, lying in the ditches and a danger on the road. Roaring and shouting went on until 3am." Another local complained of both men and women using the outside of his house as a toilet.

A gate was also thrown into his property and apple bins were overturned.

A spokeswoman for the PSNI confirmed officers had attended the scene after receiving reports of underage drinking.

She added: "Since the event, we have received complaints about antisocial behaviour, damage to fencing, trees and gates, and people openly urinating as well as loud and rowdy behaviour.

"We will investigate these complaints."

Young Farmers' Club Ulster chief executive Michael Reid said that while it had received no complaints, the group treated such incidents "most seriously".

The Belfast Telegraph yesterday made several efforts to contact Collone YFC for comment, but to no avail.

The Collone YFC website admits socialising is a big part of what it does.

It reads: "Of course, the other aspect is socialising and as we enjoy that aspect so much, we do a lot of it!"

When advertising the barbecue, the club had said buses were welcome but stressed it was for over-18s only.

Background

The Young Farmers' Club Ulster (YFCU) was founded in Limavady in 1929 by WS Armour. The YFCU is still going from strength to strength with 60 clubs throughout Northern Ireland. YFCU has approximately 3,000 members aged between 12 and 25.

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