Thugs could jeopardise Malin Tidy Town prospects
Vandals driving two stolen buses may have jeopardised a County Donegal village's chances of winning a Tidy Town award.
The school buses, stolen from Lough Swilly Bus Company, were driven onto the village green where the thieves performed handbrake turns.
John Henry McLaughlin of the Malin Development Association said repairs could cost hundreds. He said it was hoped to repair the damage before judges arrived within weeks.
The vandals, who roared into the village at about 04:00 BST on Wednesday, also damaged the buses when they hit a wall outside Malin.
"Apart from the damage they did to Malin, life could have been threatened if they had met a car on the road or someone walking," Mr McLaughlin said.
"It's criminal. They should be brought to justice. The gardai superintendent said they would do everything in their power to see these people were apprehended."'Wheelies on the green'
Mr McLaughlin said villagers who had worked hard at keeping Malin looking beautiful, had been heart-broken when they saw the damage.
"The buses were driven up onto the green in the centre of the village where the thugs did wheelies around the green three or four times.
"They caused a lot of damage to the green which we regard as one of our focal points for everybody, including the Tidy Towns competition.
He said judging in the competition began on 1 June and continued through July until early August.
"We would never know when the judges are coming, so it's important that we keep the town in pristine condition all the time."
Mr McLaughlin said he did not believe the incident was an attempt to thwart Malin's prospects of winning a Tidy Town prize.
"I think it was just hooligans carrying out vandalism in the middle of the night," he said.
"When they left Malin, they drove up the main road and tumbled the wall at a picnic area.
Mr McLaughlin said a team from the Community Employment Scheme was working on the green in a bid to have it repaired before the Tidy Town judges arrived.