Concern has been expressed over the misuse of kids’ toy pellet guns at the Oul Lammas Fair with a call for the council to ban their sale.
Police officers had to deal with a number of complaints from the general public who often had to dodge indiscriminate firing of pellets particularly around the Diamond/Fairhill areas during the two-day event.
One woman said had it not been for her sunglasses taking the impact of a pellet she could have lost an eye.
The main culprits were children as young as eight and the public witnessed the confiscation of guns from a number of them.
“Something really needs to be done about this before someone gets seriously injured, one man said.”
Another Times reader called the office to explain that his dog was shot at on numerous occasions by pellets while another caller urged Council to ban the guns entirely at the Fair stating it was affecting the number of visitors.
Agreeing Ballycastle Councillor Joan Baird said she was outraged at the anti-social activity and was hoping to raise the issue at the next Council meeting.
“I strongly agree with what these people are saying and I’m totally against the guns. However I don’t think Moyle District Council has the power to ban them,” she explained.
“I witnessed myself stalls selling the pellet guns and children and parents buying them. It’s extremely difficult when your children are pleading for you to buy them. I know one family who did and they were relieved when it broke only five minutes later.
“I totally understand peoples’ concerns, it won’t be long before someone or something is going to get injured. There’s obviously a major health and safety issue here, a stray pellet could put someone’s eye out or cause a serious injury - it’s outrageous and is an accident waiting to happen.
“I’m definitely going to bring the issue up at the next Council meeting and although I don’t think they can do anything about it we might be able to go to a higher level.
“Maybe we can write to the relevant authorities and get them to do something about it before it’s too late.”
Following reports of the incidents, Moyle Council Chairman Councillor Dónal Cunningham also expressed his concern stating: “I am very concerned to learn of these types of incident at the ‘Oul Lammas Fair’ which could have resulted in serious injury.
“A number of people have raised concerns around the availability of these type of toy pellet guns which are all too easily available for purchase at a number of the stalls. The public is right to expect action to stop this sort of incident happening.”
In response, police chief for Ballycastle Brian Hume explained that there ‘were a number of incidents’ of the misuse of pellet guns however highlighted that this year was the ‘one of the quietest in over 10 years for reported crime’.
He added: “Crime wasn’t as bad as normal during the Lammas Fair. All in all there were two crimes reported over the two days. Normally we see a spike in the crime figures during the Lammas Fair weekend, but this was not the case this year.
“Two years ago we did see a massive increase in the misuse of the guns but this year there were a few cases where officers had to speak to youths. Overall there were not as many guns and it was one of the quietest in over 10 years for reported crime, which is something to celebrate.
“Unfortunately pellet guns are not illegal and they simply a kids toy. The majority of people who visited the fair had a good day and left very happy and this should be seen as a success rather than an issue.”
One trader from Ballymena said the sale of guns was banned by organisers of two other major public events in the province and that anyone caught selling them faced a permanent ban.