Belfast Telegraph

Arson attack on garden for disabled a ‘despicable act’

By Lisa Smyth

An arson attack on a therapy garden used by disabled groups in an award-winning Belfast park has been condemned as despicable.

On Wednesday evening, a polytunnel valued at £3,000 was set on fire and completely destroyed at Musgrave Park garden in south Belfast.

The therapy garden combines different therapeutic features in one space.

A whispering wall is the central focus of the garden. It is also home to a story circle and meeting area, willow tunnel, sand play area and planting bed with disabled access.

The garden was developed with support from several nearby schools to provide a permanent facility to help improve the life and well-being of local residents.

South Belfast Alliance Party MLA Anna Lo said: “I am absolutely appalled that anyone would stoop so low as to attack a garden so well used by the community.

“This is a despicable act of vandalism and I would call on the whole community to work together to ensure those responsible are brought to justice,” she added.

A PSNI spokesman said officers would like to speak to anyone who has any information on the attack.

SDLP Belfast City councillor Claire Hanna described the attack as “disheartening”.

“On Tuesday, the park was awarded a Green Flag Award ... so it's particularly depressing after all the work that has gone into developing the park,” she said.

“Lots of young people are really embracing projects like this and we need to discover why other people are reacting so negatively to it.”

What now?

Belfast City Council have vowed to repair the garden although it is not known when the work will be carried out. For the past three years, Musgrave Park has been awarded the Green Flag Award which recognises and rewards the best green spaces in the country. Anyone with any information on the attack can speak to police on 0845 600 8000 or call Crimestoppers in complete confidence on 0800 555 111.

Belfast Telegraph

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