Sectarian sign remains five days after police alerted

Suzanne McGonagle.Irish News. Belfast. Tuesday, November 7, 2017

SECTARIAN graffiti daubed in a Co Down village was last night branded a clear attempt at intimidation.

The slogan ‘Taigs Out’ [taig is a derogatory name for Catholics] appeared on a sign on the Dundrum Road area of Clough last week.

Police said they received three reports of the graffiti, believed to be the same sign, and were “treating these incidents as hate crimes”.

However, there was criticism that it still had not been removed yesterday evening, five days after it was first reported.

Inspector Denise Graham said: “On Wednesday 1st November at approximately 3.50pm, police received a report of criminal damage to a sign in the vicinity of the Dundrum Road, and sectarian graffiti spray painted on it.

“On Friday, November 3, police received a report at approximately 5.10pm about a sign on the Dundrum Road that had sectarian graffiti daubed on it.

“Shortly after 9 am, today (Monday) police received a further report about the same sign. Police are treating these incidents as hate crimes.”

“Hate crime, in all its forms, is totally unacceptable. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure that we live in a society where diversity is respected.”

Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme director Patrick Corrigan said the sign had still not been removed yesterday evening.

“It’s disappointing that five days after the sign was notified to the police it is still there intact, continuing to intimidate a section of the community as it was designed to do,” he said.

“If the authorities can’t take action to remove a sign, then how are people meant to feel safe?”

Sinn Féin assembly member Sinéad Ennis also said she had contacted police about the sign.

“The erection of this sign was a clear attempt of sectarian intimidation,” she said.

“I reported it as a hate crime to the PSNI on Friday night and asked for it to be removed.

“The sign caused great upset to people in the area and those passing by it.”

She also expressed disappointment at the time taken to remove the graffiti.

“The PSNI should investigate this fully and anyone with information should bring it forward,” she said.

“Everyone should be able live free from harassment and intimidation and free from displays of racism, sectarianism, and homophobia.”

Clough, between Newcastle and Ballynahinch, is just a few miles from Loughinisland which has been in the headlines in recent days ahead of the release of a major documentary about the loyalist attack on the Heights Bar in 1994.

No Stone Unturned, which had its first screening in Northern Ireland last week, names several people suspected of involvement in the sectarian atrocity, which saw six men shot dead while watching a World Cup game.

It also suggests that police may have had prior knowledge of the attack.