IRA graffiti on Londonderry houses a ‘hate crime’

Police in Londonderry say the graffiti was painted sometime overnight between Saturday and Sunday
Police in Londonderry say the graffiti was painted sometime overnight between Saturday and Sunday

Police are treating IRA graffiti on houses and murals in a mixed area of Londonderry as a hate crime.

The DUP says it is the latest in a series of escalating sectarian attacks on Protestants in the mixed Waterside area while Sinn Fein has condemned what it described as sectarian graffiti.

Police said they are investigating reports of sectarian slogans at Bonds Street and Duddy’s Court painted sometime overnight between Saturday and Sunday.

DUP councillor David Ramsey said the graffiti “IRA Ghost” was daubed on seven local homes and murals featuring the Apprentice Boys and British Legion.

“People in the Waterside just want to get on with their lives and live in peace,” he said.

He added cross-community cooperation in the city is now exceptionally good due to much hard work by community leaders, while Sinn Fein has condemned all recent sectarian attacks on Protestants.

“So who do these people think they represent?”

He linked the graffiti to recent sectarian attacks on Protestants in the nearby St Columb’s Park.

There had been major problems with hundreds of youths gathering in Brook Park in the nationalist City side, he said, but when community leaders and police worked together to address the issue, they migrated across the Foyle to St Columb’s Park.

Mr Ramsey said: “So just about every sunny day this summer we have a group of 200 youths drinking and engaging in anti-social behaviour in St Columb’s Park.

“Young families have now quit going to the park and young people wearing Northern Ireland or Rangers tops have been abused.

“Two Protestant community workers went down to address the trouble in the past fortnight and a sinister element of about 60 young people broke the teeth of one and left the other with head and leg injuries.”

Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney condemned the sectarian graffiti. “Sinn Fein condemns any attempt to stoke tensions within communities,” he said. “Everyone should be able to live free from fear or intimidation.”

Anyone with information should give it to the PSNI, he added.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said: “There have been a number of incidents in recent weeks in Londonderry in both St Columbs Park and the Bond Street area (which are adjacent to each other).

“These have been intimidatory and sectarian in nature. Local DUP councillors and community representatives have met with the police in an effort to ensure action is taken to stop the attacks.

“This is happening in the context of the forthcoming August 12 Apprentice Boys celebrations, so it is imperative that wider community support is forthcoming for the efforts to prevent repeats of this deplorable activity. Tensions need to be lowered in the face of this attempt to raise them.

“SF and SDLP public representatives along with nationalist community representatives have to be unequivocal in opposing these threatening actions so that a peaceful end to the parading season can be achieved.”