Seafront vandalism ‘worsened’ since beginning of holidays - claim

A life belt at the harbour (file photo). INCT 30-416-RM
A life belt at the harbour (file photo). INCT 30-416-RM

Vandalism in the Carrickfergus harbour area has “worsened” since the beginning of the summer holidays, it has been claimed.

The warning comes as vital life rings and other safety equipment were damaged at the maritime location last week, with some items even stolen.

MEA Mayor, Councillor Audrey Wales condemned the incident, which she said could easily lead to a loss of life.

“The dangers of tampering with lifesaving equipment are obvious and even leaving aside that the ratepayer bears the expense of replacement, this is putting lives of local marina users and also everyone on shore when anywhere near the sea at risk,” she added.

“I would urge parents to take responsibility for their children: by knowing where there are and what they are doing and for local people in general to be vigilant.”

Incidents of vandalism at the seafront area have “worsened” since the beginning of the summer holidays, according to Carrickfergus harbour master, Nigel Thompson.

On one evening at the beginning of last month, every single life ring was thrown into the water, he said. “We have seven or eight and we managed to retrieve all but one of them.”

Last year, Mid and East Antrim Council trialled the ‘Sentry’ monitoring system at the maritime area.

Developed by Belfast-based Lava Group, the system works by triggering an alarm when a lifebuoy is removed from the enclosure.

This helps “reduce loss of life due to a stolen or absent lifebuoy”, according to the firm’s website.

Although the trial has since ended, it coincided with a period of almost a year where there was “hardly an incident of vandalism,” Mr Thompson said.

Additional CCTV cover at the harbour is also being considered, he added.