Northern Ireland

Colin Glen Forest Park: Woman critical, two arrested after scrambler crash

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Media captionA woman is in a critical condition after being hit by a scrambler motorbike

A woman remains in a critical condition after she was struck by a scrambler motorbike in a park on the outskirts of west Belfast.

Two men have been arrested after the collision near Mila's Lake in Colin Glen Forest Park.

The woman was walking along a pathway near the lake when she was hit by the scrambler.

She was taken to hospital by ambulance shortly after 17:45 BST and was due to undergo surgery on Tuesday evening.

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Image caption A police cordon was set up at the scene of the crash

Community workers have said it was not the first serious incident involving motorcycles and quads in Colin Glen.

Michael George, who knows the woman's family, said the mother of three young children is "fighting for her life".

"They're a lovely young family and it's a tragedy for her two daughters, son and husband," he said.

Fr Vincent Cushnahan said the family's immediate concern was to be by the woman's side "to care for her and assure her of their love".

"The parish community will of course keep that family, that young mother, that wife, in their prayers," Fr Cushnahan said.

"Our prayers and support are very much with the family involved."

He added: "It's very incumbent of parents and people responsible for our young people, as well as the young people themselves, to instil in every one's heart a respect for the local community and particularly to remain safe, not just for themselves, but for other people who are using our public spaces."

Mr George, a community safety officer, said there are ongoing problems with the use of scramblers in Colin Glen, but that it is difficult for the PSNI to intervene.

"Police won't chase scramblers, because if a young person came off and was injured, they [the police] would be held responsible."

Image caption Community safety officer Michael George, who knows the woman's family, said the mother of three young children is 'fighting for her life'

The west Belfast man appealed for the justice minister, Claire Sugden, to introduce more robust legislation "to stop people who aren't licensed getting control of these things".

He added: "We're sick of trying to appeal to parents' better judgement - they listen for a while, but come Christmas, they're buying these death machines.

"They're putting walkers' lives at risk, but they're also putting their own children in danger.

"We're being totally overrun with these scramblers and we need designated areas."

Image caption There have been appeals for more robust legislation to tackle the illegal use of scramblers

Speaking on BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme, west Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann said: "This is such a tragedy and I really want to appeal to parents not to buy their children these bikes and for parents who have already bought them, take them off their children and dispose of them.

"These bikes should never be used outside designated areas, but children and young people are using them in built up estates and parks.

"There is legislation there, but we need to look at how robust that legislation is and how it can be enforced.

"The PSNI do know the people who are riding these bikes in this reckless fashion. They need to go and speak to the families of those people and confiscate them so that we don't have another tragedy like this, where a young mother is fighting for her life - it's heartbreaking."

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