South Down MLA’s have totally condemned the actions of setting fire to a pensioner’s home at Ballymote Park in Downpatrick.
The fire which potentially could have resulted in a fatality, was attended by the NI Fire and Rescue Service )NIFRS) who got the blaze quickly under control. A spokesperson for the NIFRS said: “The NIFRS received the emergency call at 7.32pm on Friday evening 4th May and dispatched two fire tenders from the Downpatrick fire station.
“The fire was at a sem-detached bungolow and involved a garden shed and fencing initially and had spread to the rear of the property. Firefighters extinguished the fire. The incident appeared to be deliberate. The incident was dealt with at 9.13pm.”
Colin McGrath MLA (SDLP) said the fire deliberately started near to pensioners’ houses was an act of vandalism that could have resulted in death.
Mr McGrath said: “This incident took place when people were sitting down to their suppers in the evening.
“The fire was started deliberately at a fence in an alleyway, then caught fire to a shed and eventually caused damage to the house of a pensioner damaging the roof. The house is the first in a terrace and if it wasn’t for the swift response of the fire service the damage could have been much worse.
“Thankfully the pensioner wasn’t in the property at the time or else the story could have ended very differently.
“Having spent time with residents at the scene, many were left frightened and feeling very vulnerable.
“This area has been besieged by anti-social behaviour in the past number of years. I have requested alley gates be instated on a number of occasions, but have been so far unsuccessful.
“I have been told time and time again that there is insufficient funding to deliver the £6k alley-gate scheme in the area. This begs the question if the savings from not implementing the scheme cost less or more than calling emergency services to the scene, the cost of damage to properties and the cost of the out of hours contractors?
“The incident in question highlights the need for an inter-agency response – not inter-agency lip-service which is what the people of this area have been given for too long.”
Sinn Féin MLA Emma Rogan also appalled at the arson attack said an arson attack on a pensioner’s mobility scooter at his home in Downpatrick last night was “dangerous, disgraceful and despicable.”
Emma Rogan added: “A shed was set alight at the back of a pensioner’s home in Ballymote Park in the town destroying his mobility scooter.
“Those behind this attack had no regard for life or limb and I’m relieved that no one was injured as a result of this criminal act.
“Sinn Féin has been working with statutory bodies in the town in an effort to tackle the scourge of anti-social behavior.
“Unfortunately, a small element continue to engage in this dangerous behaviour against the interest and welfare of the local community.
“Local residents have had more than enough. This behaviour needs to stop now.
“I appeal to anyone with information on Friday night’s arson attack to bring it forward to the police as soon as possible.”