McKevitt slams gorse fire culprits as ‘recreational arsonists’
SDLP South Down MLA Karen McKevitt has said that the local community should be vigilant to anybody acting suspiciously in local scenic and mountainous areas. McKevitt was speaking after it emerged yesterday that the gorse fires that engulfed Newry and Rostrevor were started deliberately by arsonists.
Speaking to Newry Times she said: “We should all have learned last year that setting light to whin bushes in the mountains is not a victimless crime. Beside the very real risk to life and damage to adjoining farmland, it hits us all in the pocket when the cost of firefighting falls on our rates and taxes. But the long-term cost is even greater because these recreational arsonists are destroying future jobs in tourism. We have a unique tourism asset in the Mourne Mountains and surrounding hills. But nobody comes to visit the blackened stumps of heather and recovery takes years.”
She added, “In dry spells like the present one we all need to be on our guard. Most fires are lit close to a road but some people are walking far into the mountains to do their damage, so there are opportunities to have them caught. We need the arsonists to end up in court if we want to put a stop to this.”
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