The defacement with IRA graffiti of historical murals in Bond’s Street has been blasted by community leaders while unionists and republicans have warned of elements trying to ratchet up sectarian tensions in the Waterside.
Lloyd Magee, speaking on behalf of the Committee of Bond’s Street Community Association (BSCA), said people in the area were “saddened and disgusted by the hate fuelled sectarian graffiti, which has been daubed on the new murals in Bond’s Street”.
The BSCA chair was speaking after IRA graffiti appeared on murals in Bond’s Street and on walls in Duddy’s Court in the early hours of Sunday.
“These were commissioned just over a year ago to depict the history of the area, and are non-political and non-sectarian,” said Mr. Magee.
“It is very disheartening to discover that the perpetrators came from outside the area to carry out this wanton act of sectarian hatred,” he added.
DUP Alderman David Ramsey said there was a lot of anger over the vandalism.
“Over recent weeks we’ve had Protestant and Catholic homes attacked in the Triangle, we’ve had historical murals attacked, and the Walls of Derry have been attacked, with the same type of household paint, a couple of weeks ago. These are attacks on the history, the culture and the tradition of this town.
“They are attacks on everyone, not just Bond’s Street, and it seems part of an orchestrated attempt to heighten tensions in the run up to the Apprentice Boys parade, which has obviously been a great success.”
Ald. Ramsey said a lot of labour was expended towards making the annual ‘Relief of Derry’ celebrations a model for other parts of the North.
“A lot of people took serious risks over the years trying to further the cause of reconciliation and this is so counter-productive, it’s unbelievable,” said Ald. Ramsey.
Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson also condemned the vandals.
“Any incident that is designed to raise tensions in that area is wrong. We need to do everything we can to try and stamp it out,” he said.
Colr. Jackson suggested the vandalism may have been a predictable tit-for-tat reaction to the recent erection of Parachute Regiment flags in the area.
“Unfortunately, there definitely is a concerted effort to raise tensions in that area.
“Last year we saw it, and this year it’s the same, with the erection of flags. These attacks on the mural, all they are doing is playing into the hands of those who are trying to raise tensions, and I’d call for it to stop.”
The Waterside Sinn Féin Colr. said the residents of the Triangle and Bond’s Street areas were the ones suffering as a result of the actions of anonymous actors, who operated only under the cover of darkness.
“In the Triangle itself there are a lot of pensioners. They are very vulnerable and they are petrified. Every year, approaching this time of year, it become a flashpoint.
“The people who carried out the attacks on the murals, all they are doing is making those vulnerable people living around the Triangle even more scared, even more petrified, and it’s wrong.”
Colr. Jackson’s colleague, Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle Raymond McCartney said: “There can be no place for sectarianism in our society.
“Sinn Féin condemns any attempt to stoke tensions within communities. Everyone should be able to live free from fear or intimidation. If anyone has information about these incidents they should contact the PSNI.”