Bikers ‘dig up ground’ at burial site

A prominent prehistoric burial site near Augher was ransacked by “40 bikers” last weekend, a Clogher Valley councillor has said.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 10:46 am

Speaking at a meeting of Mid Ulster District Council’s environment committee, Councillor Sharon McAleer told “how up to 100 bikers” arrived at Knockmany Forest on Sunday.

The SDLP representative claimed 40 bikers were seen going over the Queen Baine’s burial site at the summit of Knockmany Hill and branded this act “not acceptable”.

“I have just been made aware of an issue that happened at Knockmany on Sunday [March 7] where up to 100 bikers had come to the car park and taken up all the parking spaces,” said Cllr McAleer.

“Unfortunately at Queen Baine’s burial site 40 bikers were counted going over the burial site which is just not acceptable.

“They have dug up all the ground and then proceeded to go down through the forest and destroy the wildlife, nature and fauna along the way.

“Lots of people in the community are annoyed about this as the place is packed with walkers.”

Cllr McAleer said she had already discussed the issue with council officers but said she needed to raise it now as it is an “urgent situation”.

“These bikers had been coming since last year following some negotiations they had eased off,” she said.

“These are not local bikers, they would not dream of going up that area and I am very concerned because the area is being slowly destroyed.”

In response to these claims a council officer said the comments would be taken on board and a biodiversity officer would be tasked to assess the damage and produce a long term plan to repair the damage.

Councillor Frances Burton said she was in agreement with Cllr McAleer and asked Council to tackle problems caused by increased visitor numbers at these rural attractions.

“It is a disgrace and it is ridiculous that this has happened,” said Cllr Burton.

“When you look at the amount of people that are out walking in forests, there is hardly a forest in the area that is not busy.

“There seems to be a lot of people using them at present but this, littering and the parking situation has resulted in distress for those who live close to these areas.

“Some are now housebound as people have parked over their entrances.

“I was at the Brantry on the Sunday and there were a lot of Jeeps parked on the banks, there are a number of local people very unhappy about the state of the road because of the amount of vehicles on that wee rural road.

“Road Service do not seem interested so we as a council have a bit of work in these areas as the traffic and litter problems caused by an increase in visitor numbers really frustrates the local people.”

In response, a council officer said Council may have to give some projects additional funding to increase parking spaces at these locations.