THE news that Bessbrook will have a Christmas tree this year has been met with both relief and delight.
The village was dismayed the week before last when the Christmas tree was the subject of not one, but two vandalism attacks.
Firstly, lights were pulled from the tree, with the result that when Santa arrived for the big turn on, only a section was able to be lit up.
Then, 48 hours later, it was discovered that vandals had struck again. This time, a saw had been taken to the tree, which was almost sawn through.
Such was the damage caused, that a decision was taken by the council to remove the tree on health and safety grounds.
Organising the tree and the lights in the village has been a joint venture between Bessbrook Community Resident's Association (BCRA) and Bessbrook Development Company (BDC).
After all the time, energy and money expended in organising the Christmas decorations, there was considerable anger and distress provoked by the actions of individuals Councillor David Taylor referred to as “mindless idiots”.
Last Monday, representatives from both BCRA and BDC met with Cllr Taylor as well as Councillor Kate Loughran and Councillor Roisin Mulgrew in the village to discuss whether the safety of a new tree could be guaranteed or whether it was a futile exercise.
However, after last Monday's meeting, it was decided that a new tree would indeed be provided.
This news was music to the ears of Rachael McComb, who is chairperson of the BCRA. She also outlined to the Democrat that there are plans afoot to move the tree to a more secure spot.
“We are getting a new tree,” declared Rachael.
“As far as I know, Roisin and David and Kate were there [at the meeting], and the council have agreed to source us another tree.
“They are actually in talks with Richard Black from the Bessbrook Development Company, because we're looking at moving the location of the tree.
“You'd like to think this wouldn't happen again, but it's better to take the precautions. So fingers crossed.
“It is great news, and Santa has also offered to come back to turn on the lights once it's all sorted.
“We have huge appreciation for their efforts, to Roisin Mulgrew, Kate Loughran and David Taylor who listened to the residents and fought for us to get another tree.
“Because we honestly thought that we wouldn't get another tree.”