There have been calls for greater control on car cruises after a series of incidents in Portrush resulted in many shops being forced to close their doors early on Easter Sunday.
housands revved up to the north coast town from the early hours of Sunday morning for the unofficial event, organized over social media, which has become an annual gathering for car lovers. However, while the town stressed it’s open and welcoming to anyone who visits, shop owners have urged people to have more respect for others, as some may now be off from coming.
One shop owner said she was forced to close early on Sunday Sunday for the first time in 25 years due to the behavior of drunken youths, with many families unable to get into the seaside town due to the sheer volume of cars taking over the car parks .
Rosie Stewart runs the women’s fashion store Starlight and Stone on Main Street. She said she had no option but to bring down the shutters at 2pm on what should have been one of her busiest days of the year.
Ms Stewart said: “I’ve never had to do that in 25 years. We had been looking forward to our first Easter Sunday in a couple of years and we know the day is always one that has been problematic because of the numbers coming to the town, but this year it was off the charts.
“They started arriving in the early hours, and while we have no issue with young people having fun and coming to the town, what we witnessed was a total lack of respect for businesses, the other people and young families in the town and it got worse as the day went on as they had more and more to drink.
“We used to be a town known for the smell of chips and candyfloss – now it’s diesel and rubber Several shops had to close their doors due to the abusive behavior on the streets, with many families deciding to leave the town on what should have been the start of the summer season for the business community. ”
The White House, Portrush Souvenir Shop, Bumblebee, the Tee Shop, Arcadia, Blue Moon Holistic Living and Hoods Shoerack were all understood to be affected.
Ms Stewart added: “There were fights breaking out in front of children. It was shameful. We’ve heard that the local Church of Ireland had to postpone a service. There was one man who came into the shop and said he’d woken up to armageddon.
He was here for a holiday but had decided to go home. We have no problem with people coming to the town, but we just want those who do come to treat the town, and the other people in it, with some respect. you hear of some business owners having to lock themselves in their shops then it’s taking things too far.
“Portrush is on a peninsula. There’s only one way in or out. When the cars parks are taken over by a cruise event, there’s nowhere for anyone to park. We need to strike some sort of balance. We can’t be driving families out of town before they even get here.
“And when they do get here, we don’t want to hear of people being abused and elderly people being terrified to leave their homes. It’s not so much the cars, it’s the behavior of the people who come with them.
“It should have been a day for families to come along, enjoy the new fun park and the Easter weekend, but it descended into chaos.”
Alliance councilor Chris McCaw, who lives in the town, said too many young people had “lost the run of themselves” and that some of the scenes were “ridiculous”.
He has urged anyone coming to Portrush to show a little more respect.
He said: “We want to welcome people to Portrush with open arms, but that’s all people. There needs to be closer work with the PSNI to make sure Portrush stays open for everyone to enjoy.
“I don’t know if it’s that people were so glad to finally be able to get out and about over Easter, and we understand that young people want to show off their cars, but there was a massive impact on the town on Sunday.
“To hear that people who have come to visit our town were on the receiving end of drunken abuse is not good enough.”
Police had to close off a section of the town at Landsdowne Crescent, and there were a number of other road closures and diversions in place. Social media footage of fights and anti-social behavior have also been appearing online.
PSNI Causeway Coast and Glens district commander, Superintendent Jeremy Lindsay said: “We appreciate that the north coast is a popular spot, particularly at Easter time, and we want to reassure you that local policing teams and neighborhood officers are on duty for everyone’s safety – particularly around our train stations, beaches and coastal towns.
“We understand that there will be extra traffic to the town and that delays will be inevitable, however we are working together to minimize, as much as possible, any disruption this will bring.
“We wish to remind all motorists intending to visit the north coast that any form of anti-social driving or reckless behavior will not be tolerated – that includes excessive speeds, dangerous driving or any practice that put the lives of road users at risk. There will be a police presence in the town to offer reassurance to local residents and businesses and to ensure that drivers and passengers are not engaging in behavior that would negatively impact the community. Reckless, disorderly or criminal behavior will not be tolerated.
Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Richard Holmes added: “We want families and friends to enjoy a positive experience when they come to the Causeway coast and Glens over the Easter holiday period. Please show respect to our residents, your fellow visitors, other road users and the emergency services who are there to keep everyone safe. ”