Bessbrook Christmas tree has been removed due to safety concerns, after it was targeted by vandals who broke the lights on the tree and sawed virtually the whole way through it. It's not the first year the tree has been damaged.

The Chairperson of Newry, Mourne & Down Council, Cllr Roisin Mulgrew has described the vandalism as a "wanton act of destruction"

The local Councillor was speaking after it was decided to remove the damaged tree from the centre of the village due to safety concerns.

Cllr Mulgrew explained "The village Christmas Tree had all its lights broken and has been sawn practically the full way through. This is not the first time this has happened, as over the past years the tree has been the focus of deliberate attacks. The Council has had to remove the vandalised  tree due to safety concerns. There is a strong possibility that it might not be replaced as many local people feel that those engaged in this wanton act of destruction, will attack it again"

Cllr Mulgrew continued "I share the anger and frustration of all right minded people at this deliberate attack on a community trying to bring a festive flavour to their village. There is nothing funny about this criminal act of damage and hopefully those who carried it out will be identified and face the full rigorous of the law".

The Chairperson concluded "I have asked Council Officers to take soundings from the local community on their views about replacing the Christmas Tree, as to how secure they feel it will be or whether it is a futile exercise".