TEENAGE KICKS GOING TOO FAR

Councillor Joe Nelson at the Beech Court area of the Shankill Estate. INLM3211-136gc
Councillor Joe Nelson at the Beech Court area of the Shankill Estate. INLM3211-136gc

ANTI-SOCIAL behaviour in parts of Shankill is said to have pushed residents to “the end of their tether”.

According to people living in Beech Court, groups of teenagers, most of whom are from outside the estate, are congregating in the area on a nightly basis.

Graffiti at Beech Court. INLM3211-137gc

Graffiti at Beech Court. INLM3211-137gc

Residents allege that the problems in the area are “a lot more sinister than just underage drinking”.

There were reports of abuse being hurled at two people with special-needs who live in the estate, as well as claims of girls urinating on a path outside a resident’s home.

There have also been allegations of verbal abuse being directed at those living in the area.

One woman who lives on the estate told the ‘MAIL’ that she is planning to leave Lurgan after being “intimidated and harassed” for more than two years.

Empty bottles at Beech Court. INLM3211-138gc

Empty bottles at Beech Court. INLM3211-138gc

The woman, who did not wish to be named, suffers from a mental health condition, which she says has worsened since the group started hanging about in the area.

“The first few years I lived in Shankill were great,” she said.

“However, it all started getting very nasty about two years ago.

“They drink on the green in Beech Court and get up to all sorts. They are drinking, taking drugs and taking part in sexual activities.

“But it gets a lot worse than that. I have been verbally abused countless times by some of those who hang out there.

“On one occasion, they tried to kick my front door down. It was absolutely terrifying. It was in the middle of the night and I heard these loud bangs. Even the dog was scared. She ran off under the bed to hide.”

Some of the residents are very critical of the PSNI’s handling of the issue.

“The woman continued: “Most of the time they just move them up the street a bit. Ten minutes after the police leave, the whole group return.

“On one occasion I saw two officers laughing with some of this crowd after I rang them. I felt like bursting into tears.

“How can they stand laughing with them when I’m at my wit’s end?”

She added: “The police say they cannot do anything if there has been no crime committed, but surely harassment counts as a crime?”

Another woman who lives in the area said: “Probably the most disgusting thing about this group is the way they treat some of the people in the estate who have special needs.

“They tease them about stuff they are far to innocent to understand. It’s just inappropriate and disgusting.”

She continued: “This all began two years ago. There was a crown who used to hang about here drinking before that. If I came out and told them to move somewhere else, I wouldn’t have got a bit of bother from them, they just would have moved somewhere else.

“But this crowd is different. They are a vicious lot who care about nobody other than themselves. If you confronted them, you would be met with a string of abuse.”

Another woman from the estate said she was “plagued” by the group.

“I have to ask what the parents are up to,” she said.

“I have seen some of the youngsters being dropped off and picked up here at night. It’s outrageous.”

She added: “My husband had a heart attack last year and he certainly doesn’t need to put up with this.”

One man who lives in Beech Court described the situation as “intolerable”.

“On one occasion I witnessed a young man running up and down the alley way outside my house with no trousers or underwear on. Then he proceeded to try and kick panels off my neighbour’s fence.

“I do not want to be a nuisance to the PSNI every time I call them, but it really is getting intolerable.

“The police are doing the best they can and they did come down and ask them to leave. Later when the police left, at around 1.10am, it was the same again.

“They were trying to pull my fence down this time. I got on me and went out the front and told them were to go. All they did was laugh at me.

He added: “I’m really pulling my hair out here.”