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Vandals hit village in spate of attacks

Sion Mills 'peaceful and tranquil' despite incidents

By Will Ellison

Police and councillors today insisted that a Co Tyrone village is a 'peaceful and tranquil' place to live despite a spate of recent incidents.

Five incidents were reported to the police over the weekend in Sion Mills, which achieved fame when a West Indies cricket touring party tasted defeat to an Irish side in 1969.

The reports included a malicious fire at Church Square, three broken windows at houses in the area and a BB gun shooting.

The weekend's problems are thought to have been carried out by a small group of people and the PSNI are now investigating them.

Eugene McMenamin, chairman of the Strabane District Policing Partnership, said: "We in the district were reassured by the PSNI as far back as six weeks ago that there would be enough policing in the area.

"Whenever you have incidences of vandalism it will attract unfavourable coverage, but Sion Mills is a relatively peaceful village. However, there is an element within the village that is hell-bent on causing trouble and the sooner they are caught and the full rigours of the law is brought to bear, only then will the village return to being peaceful and tranquil.

"People have a responsibility to report these acts of vandalism when they see it happening, and there is a very good community group in Sion Mills that they can go to. All anyone has to do is go to the community group or the PSNI because the sooner this is dealt with the sooner these people will be stopped.

"These people are only hell-bent on destroying personal property."

Sergeant Michael Harkin of the PSNI said: "While recent incidents have attracted considerable media attention and perhaps raised the fear of crime, I would ask people to remember that overall crime in the area is on the decrease.

"It is unfortunate that the reckless actions of a few have disturbed what is generally a welcoming and peaceful community.

"My team has been working extremely hard to build on the trust we have with local residents and we have made excellent progress. Our Neighbourhood Watch project is proving to be successful and School Watch schemes have shown to reduce vandalism over the summer holidays.

"The level of cooperation between police and the community has been excellent and we would like this to continue. It is vital that everyone plays their part in keeping our village safe.

"Reducing anti-social behaviour is something everyone in the village can get behind and I would also urge parents to play their role."

Sergeant Harkin added: "We will not hesitate to take appropriate action against anyone found damaging property in the village. We would ask people to tell us about any suspicious activity they notice straightaway so that we have an opportunity to check out such reports."

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