He was responding to spates of incidents involving people starting fires in the Bemahague and School Road areas in the last month, as well as public property being damaged in Onchan Juniors Football Club’s (February) and Onchan Park’s newly refurbished toilets (April).
The former MHK has previously voiced his concern separately from Onchan District Commissioners, when he stated via social media that ’more needs to be done to clamp down on these incidents’, and that ’there needs to be more bobbies on the beat to discourage anti-social behaviour’.
Speaking to the Examiner, Mr Quirk said: ’There are several reasons for [these incidents] but primarily, I think it’s down to Covid-19 and lockdown. We need to, as a community in Onchan and around the island, engage with youths and juveniles to stimulate them.
’We do a great job with kids from age six to 10, sport is a massive thing in the island and kids can play hockey, rugby and football, it’s all hugely popular.
’But because schools and other places where kids would normally exercise themselves and have regular structure weren’t available [over lockdown] I think it’s added to the problem. I think that the mindless acts of vandalism have recently become more serious with the fires. That is dangerous stuff and now we need to educate different individuals - I would say that they are probably in the 14 to 17 age group.’
Police confirmed last week that one individual has been identified and will be dealt with appropriately, after four small fires in the village in less than a week.
Mr Quirk said: ’The consequences of their actions needs to be reiterated to these individuals, as they probably don’t realise [the full extent] of their act.
’The police and the fire service could put out joint statements [to the public].
’It was only last year that we had a group of people at Onchan Football Club during lockdown who had these miniature barbecues and put it on grass thinking nothing of it.
’They probably didn’t realise that they could poison themselves with not properly-cooked food, while they will just burn through if left unattended.
’We asked Kevin Groom, the chief fire officer, to put a little warning out to [barbecue] suppliers and to people who might think of doing similar, because they’re dangerous, not only to the community itself but if it was close to houses, it could be a potential loss to life.
’If Bemahague School had been set fire to, there’s millions of pounds worth of equipment in that school that could have been lost.’
Mr Quirk has made it clear that whatever he says with regards to these issues is from him as an individual and not the thoughts of the commissioners.
This comes after Onchan District Commissioners issued a formal disclaimer in April following Mr Quirk’s previous comment regarding the need for more police patrols in the village.