Cllr Kellie Armstrong said: “Fire damage, up rooted signs, graffiti, broken bottles and evidence of drug use are the common signs of ongoing vandalism at the Grey Abbey Monument.
“This damage is being caused by a number of people who have chosen to use the monument as their private drinking and drug den. I would call upon the police to make more frequent visits around the Greyabbey area to catch these people before they end up destroying a much loved feature of the Upper Ards area.
“The damage occurs after the grounds are closed to the public and mainly Thursday to Sunday nights. The vandals have easy access to the Abbey through the grave yard. This night time trespass is becoming more frequent and damage is worsening. There is often evidence of football matches being played with the monument itself being used as goal posts. This has already resulted in stones being dislodged damaging the Abbey.
“NI Environment Agency staff spend at least an hour each weekend morning cleaning the site before the grounds are open to the public. The continual damage is clear to be seen: fire damage and scorch marks inside the Abbey ruins, charred logs left lying in the cloisters area and up rooted NIEA signs. The increased costs to manage the vandalism on the site is being paid for by the rate payer.
“I am disgusted by this anti-social behaviour and particularly concerned about the evidence of drug use taking place on the site. I ask all parents to ensure their children or young adults stay away from the monument until this illegal activity ends.
“I would like to pay tribute to the NIEA staff that work extremely hard to remove broken glass and drug paraphernalia, to ensure the general public cannot be injured or have to see the wanton damage.
“I call upon the police to increase visits to the village and to send patrols to the monument to catch whoever is responsible for this disgusting drug and drink fuelled vandalism.”