Actions of vandals shame our society
The mentality of people who would break into a horse riding centre for the disabled and beat the horses, or those who would vandalise a play park putting it out of use for the summer, is beyond the comprehension of most people.
If anything could be called mindless vandalism, then these two incidents fall into that category. It is the destruction of something enjoyed by others but for no gain to those who carry it out.
The horses which are used to give riding lessons to children and young people with disabilities are carefully chosen and trained for their placid and obedient nature. But now they have been left traumatised after those who broke into the centre in Maghera beat them and put ropes around their necks.
In a previous incident where a horse was stabbed, it was never able to be used again to give rides to those with disabilities and there are fears that some of the animals attacked this time may end up with the same mental distress.
This is an invaluable resource manned by volunteers and funded by public donation. As one of those who work there said, for some of the children and young people who book rides, it is the only time of the week when they get out of their homes to do something so enjoyable.
Now they may be denied those moments of pleasure if some horses have to be rehomed and replacements found. Those who work at the centre and those who donate to help run it display the true spirit of Northern Ireland. However, sadly, the vandals represent a mindless, thuggish element which brings shame to this society.
This newspaper has consistently argued for tough sentences for those found guilty of cruelty to animals. This is a case where the perpetrators should face exemplary sentences for not only traumatising animals but also denying vulnerable young people use of a valuable resource.
Another example of this thuggish element was those responsible for damaging a children's play park in Ballymena. The cost of repairs will be around £65,000 but the work cannot be carried out until the autumn, meaning children will be denied a much-needed facility during the summer.
When the vandals were setting fire to elements of the play park, what did they think they were achieving. Did they never think of the children who use and enjoy it? Hopefully they will be caught and brought to court. That may exercise their minds.