Firestarters put lives at risk at Knockmore

The burned-out shell of a bin set alight in Lisburn's Knockmore area.
The burned-out shell of a bin set alight in Lisburn's Knockmore area.

Vandals who torched bins in an early-morning arson spree in Lisburn’s Knockmore area have been condemned for putting lives at risk.

The SDLP’s Councillor Pat Catney branded the arsonists, who struck between two and four o’clock on a Thursday morning, as senseless and depraved hoodlums displayingcomplete disregard for the safety of others.

“We need to be clear,” he said, “that this was more than just a petty act of anti-social behaviour; any act of arson, no matter how small, has the potential to damage property and even endanger life.

“One family I spoke to saw the fire spread to their garden before they were able to put it out. Some of the other fires were lit right beside parked cars, which of course could have damaged the vehicles or caused an explosion. We should all be extremely thankful that this recklessness didn’t result in a tragedy.”

Mr Catney said communities had a right to live free from harrassment at the hands of a “a pack of hoodlums” and it was revolting that there were people in the Knockmore area who didn’t feel safe in their own homes, let alone out on the street.

“This is the type of senseless and depraved vandalism that we need to weed out of our city,” he said, “ . . . We can’t allow this type of behaviour to continue; we have a moral responsibility as a society to stand up to this type of behaviour.”The Killultagh councillor called for “a collective community effort” to tackle lawless behaviour.

“I have loved this city my entire life,” he said, “and I am not prepared to allow it to be ruined like this.

“It’s important we all work together, both within the council and throughout Lisburn, and stand up to help make our streets safe again.

“I would encourage local parents to sit down and talk to their children about this kind of behaviour and urge them not to take part in this nonsense.

“I would also urge anyone who has information on this attack to get in contact with the police as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, he said, he had been working with the council to try and help those people whose bins were destroyed by the vandals and he called for a council re-think on bin replacement fees.

“I would encourage anyone struggling to get a replacement bin to get in touch with me right away,” he said.

“It’s not right that people should have to go without something as simple as a bin and have to deal with rubbish being piled up because somebody else decided to break the law.

“I also think that it’s unfair to ask people to pay for a replacement, something I believe the council should re-examine.”