A CHURCH in Sion Mills has been forced to chain its gates after a sickening incident saw broken bottles and vomit strewn in the grounds of the building.
The stomach-turning debris was left in plain sight of church-goers attending the Sunday service at St Theresa’s Church last weekend.
The problem was publicly highlighted by community activist Andy Patton, who believes the mess was the unsavoury aftermath of anti-social drinking.
According to Mr Patton, numerous local individuals contacted him about the issue, which he described as “genuinely disgusting”.
“Church-goers were met with empty vodka bottles and sick everywhere as they attended church on Sunday,” he explained. “Over the weekend I was getting calls about young people under the influence of drink and drugs, and undoubtedly the unbelievable mess is attributed to this.
“There is an insane lack of respect at play here. This kind of horrible littering isn’t acceptable anywhere, and especially not at a church. Whoever is responsible simply has no regard for the local community.”
Mr Patton says that as a direct result of the incident, the church has decided to lock its gates whenever services aren’t taking place.
“Unfortunately, the church has had to take the decision to have the side gates chained and locked,” he said. “This is the only way we can deflect people from going into the church grounds. Over the years young people have been congregating at the front and side doors of the church and eating food and drinking, leaving mess after mess.
“We had worked with the young people and hoped this problem had stopped but it seems to have started again. It has to stop.”
Concluding Mr Patton added that it isn’t just unruly young people who are responsible for the litter problem at the church.
“Cars often pull into the church car park, eat food and throw their waste onto the church grounds. Also, people should have respect and stop walking their dogs through the grass of the church. Dog fouling is becoming an issue.
“We will be asking for the robust actions of PSNI in helping eradicate this problem immediately. We need villagers and parishioners to help in this also, if you witness actions such as this please contact us immediately or phone the PSNI on 101 to alert.”
Posted: 5:56 pm September 8, 2018