A mother has hit out at the “scumbags” who dumped the dirty needle her seven-year-old son found in public toilets in Cookstown.
The Magherafelt woman had just arrived in town to go shopping with her son and 16-month-old baby on Saturday, when the little boy badly needed the toilet.
Being in the centre of town she took him to public toilets just off the Burn Road and waited outside with her baby.
Horrified to hear her little boy come out saying “Mammy there’s an injection in there”, she said she went into panic mode.
“I went in and saw it and it was below a wee grating and if somebody had have wanted to get it they would have been able to no bother,” she explained.
“I says ‘I hope you didn’t touch it’, and he says ‘no, no Mammy I didn’t’.
“I’m disgusted at the thought of somebody leaving it,” she added, “but I would be worried about wee ones lifting it. It’s dangerous.”
When this reporter visited the public toilets on Tuesday, three used needles could be clearly seen in the grating behind the toilet - one oozing blood.
After informing the council, we were told the bathrooms had been cleaned overnight and that six similar incidents had been reported to them this year.
Pointing out the toilet’s close proximity to a children’s play park, the concerned mother said she didn’t blame the council for the problem.
I’m disgusted at the thought of somebody leaving it, but I would be worried about wee ones lifting it. It’s dangerous - concerned mother
“I was speaking to the council this morning,” she told the Mail, “and they say it is an ongoing problem.
“I know it’s not a direct reflection of the council because there’s only so much that they’ll be able to do.
“But you would think that the people that are doing it would do it in their house.
“He says [the council staff member] it’s happened in the Burnavon toilets and that toilets, and that it’s a real problem.
“It’s not their fault that these scum bags are going in and leaving them there for anybody to be able to lift,” she went on.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do.
“Maybe they’ll have to put a charge for people to use the toilet, then you’re not going to get the likes of that scum coming in” - a cost she thinks is acceptable if it stops this sort of behaviour in the currently free public toilets.
But, what the mum-of-two said concerns her more now, is “the thought of walking around Cookstown on a Saturday doing your shopping and knowing now that there’s people probably walking round spaced out of their head.
“You don’t think of them things,” she added.
Council take the matter seriously
A spokesperson for Mid Ulster District Council told the Mail: “This kind of incident can be distressing for anyone, particularly a mother with a young child, and we take the matter very seriously.
“The toilets are inspected and cleaned every day and are also on a timelock which ensures they open and close automatically at set times.
“Our enforcement staff continue to work with the community policing team to help prevent abuse of the facilities and other anti-social behaviour.
“We would urge anyone with information which may help to identify offenders to contact the police.”
They also said a prosecution took place in relation to the incident in the Burnavon.