INTIMIDATION, bullying, harassment – these are just some of the words used this week to describe the activities of a gang of youths in Lisnafin Park.
Reportedly ongoing for a number of months this ‘sinister’ form of anti-social behaviour has even led to some families to seek a move away from the town centre estate.
In one instance, a local resident has been repeatedly targeted despite the fact that she has been undergoing treatment for a serious illness.
“I had heard some stories about what was going on but I hadn’t witnessed any of it,” Lisnafin resident Tommy Barr said this week. “That is, until I became the focus of their nonsense.”
Mr Barr described how on one night this week, youths started pelting his home’s windows with snowballs, an assault which lasted close to 15 minutes. “It was Sunday night when this happened and it went on for a right while,” he explained. “After a while I went out to them but instead of running away, they stood there and started to taunt me.
“It’s sinister. When a group of young people does something and then doesn’t run away but stands there and teases you, even moving towards you, it’s as if they are challenging you. It’s as if they are spoiling for a fight. I’ve only been in Lisnafin for a few months and it’s been great. The neighbours were very good and there was no problem. Then this happened.”
Mr Barr further explained that following the intimidation he posted a message on social media asking if other local people had been targeted.
“I was amazing by the response,” he admitted. “Over 20 people contacted me to say it had happened to them and the cases are all the same. And it’s not just in Lisnafin either but even on the other side of the town.”
He continued, “There is definitely a fear among people with what’s going on. My concern is that someone who is being taunted gets so frustrated that they try and do something about it, take the law into their own hands and either they’ll hurt someone or get hurt themselves.”
Condemning the on-going incidents of antisocial behaviour and verbal abuse West Tyrone Sinn Féin MLA Michaela Boyle has urged the youths involved to respect their neighbours.
Speaking this week Ms Boyle said, “Windows have been pelted with ice and snow balls and there have been reports of youths gathering to drink alcohol. A number of these youths are reported to be only 14 or 15 years of age. Youths also harassed a number of residents and verbal abuse was given when they were asked to refrain from the anti-social actions.
“The small minority who are taking part in this are totally unrepresentative of the majority of young people in this town who would never engage in any type of activity which would inflict hardship upon their own community. I would urge those involved to please have respect for their neighbours and think about the hurt and fear they are causing within their community.”
“I would also encourage parents over the midterm break to be vigilant and ensure their children are not taking part in any such activity. I have spoken to the PSNI on this matter and have asked it to be monitored closely.”
Posted: 11:07 am February 22, 2018