CHILDREN as young as 10 years old have been involved in running sectarian battles among the gravestones in Carnmoney Cemetery, the Times can reveal.
Over the past few weeks, gangs of loyalist and nationalist youths have been organising nightly clashes in both sections of the cemetery - Carnmoney Main and Carnmoney East.
According to local community workers, who have been working alongside the police to try to stop the trouble, children and young people from several local housing estates, and others from outside Newtownabbey, have been gathering in the graveyards in the evenings, shouting sectarian abuse at each other, throwing stones and fighting. They claim that other children, some aged as young as eight, are risking their lives running across two of the borough’s busiest roads - O’Neill Road and Prince Charles Way - to watch the madness unfold.
Rathcoole community worker Phil Hamilton claimed the “recreational rioting” is being deliberately arranged by young people using social media websites.
“People are absolutely sickened that this is happening in the cemetery,” he told the Times.
“These kids, some of them as young as 10, are chasing each other over the graves, climbing over people’s gravestones and throwing stones at each other.
“It’s only a matter of time before graves get damaged or some of these young people get badly hurt. There’s also the fear that some innocent bystander, who just happens to be visiting a loved one’s grave when these young people are throwing stones and running riot, could get hurt.
“This is a resting place for people’s loved ones. In fact I’m sure some of these young people could have grandparents or other relatives buried in the cemetery so they need to stop and think about what they’re doing. It’s absolutely morally wrong what’s going on.”
Read the full shocking story in this week’s Times...