AS the debate rumbles on about the fate of trees at Antrim Castle Gardens, a new planting scheme at the beauty spot was destroyed by thugs over the weekend.
A number of newly-bedded-in saplings outside the parterre and Clotworthy House area were snapped in half and some stakes were also lifted.
The news comes as the borough prepares to welcome scores of visitors to the venue with the start of the Enchanted Winter Gardens event.
Antrim Alliance councillor Neil Kelly expressed his anger at the ‘reckless vandalism’.
“This beggars belief, why would someone do this?” he asked.
“I really am at a loss to see what this achieves. Our staff take great pride in how the gardens look and this is a slap in the face to all of us who love the place.
“People need to catch themselves on and stop spoiling the enjoyment of such a lovely place for the rest of us.
“This is criminal damage and needs to stop and I would appeal to anyone with any information on who did this to contact the police. There is no place for this in our town.”
South Antrim MLA Pam Cameron agreed, adding: “Very sad to see images of vandalism to new trees in Antrim Castle Grounds this morning.
“Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough and the Friends of Antrim Castle Gardens put in so much effort to preserve and enhance this beautiful space in our town.
“Shame on those who felt the need to do this. No respect!”
For more on the discussion over tree planting at Castle Gardens, see page 8.