Vandals have struck at Lilian Bland Community Park in Glengormley and Sixmilewater Park in Ballyclare over the weekend targeting the cow sculptures which were designed and decorated by local school children as part of a CAN Peace III project. The cows were forming part of the overall CowParade NI taking place this summer.
In Lilian Bland Community Park a mosaic cow was badly vandalised having had all its tiles removed. The sculpture which had 20 hours of work invested in it from 77 pupils from Ashgrove and Glengormley Integrated Primary Schools had been on display with the other cows from 11th July 2012.
Also this weekend, the larger of the three cows installed in Sixmilewater Park in Ballyclare was also subject to vandalism - a patchwork blanket which was glued on to the cow and consisted of individual patches made by children from Ballyclare and Tir Na Nog Primary Schools involved in the project, has been removed. The Council is urging anyone with information on its whereabouts to come forward.
Another cow which was on display in Sixmilewater Park went missing from the park. One of the ‘Mini Moo’s’ was forcibly removed from its bolts and from the park itself. The PSNI has since recovered this.
All remaining cows in both parks will be removed later today by CowParade NI in order to have repairs carried out. As schools are currently on summer break, artists will be in place to replicate and reinstate the damaged artwork to the best of their ability. A decision has yet to be made as to where the cows will be installed after the repairs have been made.
CowParade NI organiser Rachel Hart commented:
“We are shocked and saddened by the disgraceful and mindless vandalism that was carried out on the cows in Newtownabbey over the weekend.
What makes this even more reprehensible is that these beautiful sculptures were made by hundreds of local primary school children as part of a peace project. These youngsters will be heartbroken when they hear of what has happened.
We are now working with the Council and the Peace III Partnership to see how quickly we can repair the damage and get the cows back on display, for everyone to enjoy.
CowParade Northern Ireland is unique in that the vast majority of our cows have been made by community groups as a celebration of their culture and identity. It is very sad that a few mindless idiots have decided to spoil the fun for everyone else."
Councillor Noreen McClelland, Vice Chair of the CAN Peace III Partnership, echoed Ms Hart’s comments adding that the Council and the Partnership viewed the CowParade as a positive and motivating initiative which school children and the wider community had supported. She added:
“It is very disappointing that the efforts of the children have been destroyed in what is an act of wanton vandalism. The cows made a great feature in the park and hopefully they can be restored and re-sited before long.”
CCTV footage from both parks is being reviewed thoroughly and the Council is working with the local PSNI and local community groups in Glengormley and Ballyclare to help identify those responsible for the vandalism.
The Council is appealing for anyone with information on the vandalism to contact the PSNI on 0845 6010 8000.