A police area commander has told a group of elected and community representatives in Newry that his team will be actively tackling the drugs issue in the city over the next month.
A group of Sinn Féin elected representatives conducted a “very tense” meeting with senior representatives from the PSNI earlier today.
That meeting also touched on the serious incidents of anti-community and criminal incidents across Newry, including a large gathering of youths in Clanrye Avenue on Thursday night.
Speaking after the meeting, Newry and Armagh MLA Liz Kimmins, commented: “Mickey Brady MP, Cllr Valerie Harte and I, along with CRJ Newry and community representatives, relayed the sheer anger and frustration felt across the city by the community in relation to these events and the urgent need for the PSNI to step up to the plate to deal with this.
“Our communities should not be living in fear and anxiety due to the inaction of relevant statutory bodies to deal with the significant rise of these highly dangerous incidents.
“Those responsible must be dealt with and the community need to see tangible action if we want there to be any confidence in the police.”
Ms Kimmins added: “It is not up to community volunteers to deal with this, the police need to protect communities from these reckless thugs who are constantly terrorising areas and undermining the hard work of community associations and other organisations to improve the quality of life for their residents and make their community a good place to live.
“The PSNI took on board the raw emotions demonstrated today and have agreed to ‘regroup’ and review their approaches to put an end to this in conjunction with other statutory agencies.
“The Area Commander, who was in attendance, specifically stated that he will be dedicating this month initially to dealing with the drugs issue in the Newry City area as his priority.”
Concluding, Ms Kimmins said: “Sinn Féin will monitor this situation and continue to support the community and work with them by holding the PSNI and others to account, to make Newry a safe place for everyone.”
Meanwhile, St Jospeh’s High School in Newry said they had been informed that some of their pupils were involved in the large gathering of youths last night.
In a statement on social media, the School said: “The PSNI have been in touch with St Joseph’s this morning regarding the anti-social behaviour of young people in the Clanrye area of Newry yesterday evening.
“It has been reported that up to 50 young people were throwing stones and harassing local residents. Unfortunately some of these young people could be identified as pupils of our school.
“St Joseph’s parents/guardians, some of these young people could be your children.
“We are living through a pandemic and a lockdown in present times and young people should not be gathering in any area of Newry at any time of the day.”