Shock over bladed weapons cache from child's bedroom
A Belfast community worker has spoken of his shock after a parent handed him a cache of deadly weapons found in their child's bedroom.
The stash included two flick-knives, a machete, two other large knives, an axe and a flick-stick baton, while drug paraphernalia was also found.
Eddie Burns (33) is the leader in charge of St Malachy's Youth Centre in the Markets area of Belfast.
He believes this find should act as a warning to parents as to what could be hidden in their child's bedroom.
He said: "They explained they had noticed a change in the child's behaviour over the last number of weeks.
"Usually the child's room is out of bounds, that's the rule they have in the house, but they went in and uncovered this cache of weapons along with drug paraphernalia and bags.
"I'm not sure if they have confronted the child, but they were alarmed at the seriousness of the weapons.
"They didn't want to go to the police directly for fear that the child would be criminalised. Please parents, check your kids' bedrooms. They could be used for anything. Parents know their kids better than anyone else does.
"There is a parental instinct if something isn't right and I would encourage parents to act on that instinct. It's in the best interests of their children."
The parent told Eddie that their child, believed to be in their early teens, was using drugs, but not dealing. He said it's possible the child was being used to store weapons, as they were seen as a "soft touch".
There have also reportedly been issues with arranged fights in the area, but Eddie hoped these weapons were not linked to them.
He added: "We've had tensions recently with Donegall Pass and fighting in the walkway around Belsonic, as well as underage drinking.
"I wouldn't like to think the fighting would get to that stage, but it crossed my mind when I saw the weapons.
"They have been sharpened recently, so were these going to be used in these arranged fights? I wouldn't like to think so.
"There is also a high level of heroin usage on the walkway. There's no two ways about that and the police are well informed. It's something we are looking at addressing."
Eddie patrols the area around the youth centre with other staff for around three hours on weekend evenings in case any young people need help.
He said: "If young people are stuck or in trouble, they know we are on the streets. We are easily spotted with luminous green jumpers and they can make contact with us.
"If we come across young people and feel there is a duty of care element, we will pass that on to the community police, Ambulance Service or council.
"If people feel they can't turn to anyone else, I am here. Anything handed in will be passed on to police anonymously."