Vandals under fire for arson attack on bulldozer
Years of "tireless" work carried out by local groups to get much needed sporting facilities in the Bone Hills area of north Belfast have been delayed after vandals set fire to a bulldozer on the site.
Ardoyne/Marrowbone sports group has worked with a number of organisations in recent years to try and secure funding for youth provision in the area.
Work had only recently begun on the site for a planned new 3G pitch following the announcement by Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin that £245,000 had been secured from Sports NI. It will now have to stop until repairs can be made to the equipment.
Member of the lobby group and local SDLP councillor Nicola Mallon (pictured) said she was "infuriated" by what she believed to be a "mindless attack of a few youths".
"Everyone in Ardoyne wants this facility for the benefit of the local area," she said.
"After speaking to the PSNI and local residents we believe that this was a mindless vandalism attack by youths.
"There has been years of work put into getting this project off the ground and the sports group have worked tirelessly to get to this stage of the development. It's a setback but we will not allow this to derail us and we will keep working together and with the aid of the local community, remain vigilant."
In September, the Sports minister met with Social Development minister Nelson McCausland and Justice minister David Ford to seek further financial support for the site.
Caral Ni Chuilin said: "Vandalism can have serious consequences and directly affects the life of local people who stand to gain by the development these new sporting facilities."
Sinn Fein councillor Gerry McCabe said: "This is a disgusting act of vandalism and is clearly an attack on the whole community. Many people have been working for a long period to make this sports facility a reality and work just started recently.
"I call on anyone with any information on who is responsible for this to contact the PSNI. While this is a set back for the construction of the pitch, it will not stop it going ahead. A tiny minority of thugs will not prevent this community from moving forward and the people of the area having the facilities they are entitled to."