Belfast Telegraph

Ratepayers to foot £4,000 bill for vandalised pitch

By Donna Deeney

Repairs to a rugby pitch that had glass smashed on its surface and imbedded into the ground will cost ratepayers £4,000, it has emerged.

Strabane Rugby Club have been forced to play the rest of their home matches away from the Bradley Way ground after the vandalism was discovered.

A match between Strabane and Rainey Old Boys had to be abandoned after the referee discovered the remnants of smashed bottles at a goal end of the pitch.

Teenagers spotted on the pitch drinking carry-outs are thought to be behind the destruction of the ground in the Co Tyrone town.

Strabane councillor Derek Hussey slammed the vandalism and appealed to people to report those responsible to the police.

“This was obviously the action of the blue bag brigade but what is worrying about this is that they actually pushed pieces of glass into the ground as well as smashing the glass bottles they were drinking from,” he said.

“This happened to a council-owned soccer ground last year and then it cost ratepayers £4,000 to repair and I understand that the cost to repair the rugby pitch after this attack will once again be £4,000.

“Unfortunately, what it means for the club is that they now will have to find an alternative pitch to play their home matches and they may have to go outside the district council area to do this, which will bring added costs to the team and supporters.

“This was pure wanton vandalism and is particularly discouraging for the team, who are taking part in a competition final at Ravenhill shortly and this will put a dampener on that but hopefully the team will rise above it.”

Honorary secretary of the club Robert Dillon added: “We started to lift the glass but with so many broken bottles it would have taken three or four hours to make any impression at all.

“The referee said we couldn't play on it, it was too dangerous.”

A PSNI spokesman said police are aware of the incident and have increased patrols in the area as a result.

“The PSNI has zero tolerance for those who damage property or are found drinking in a public place,” he said.

Anyone witnessing incidents of anti-social behaviour has been urged to contact police in the town on 0845 600 8000.

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