Graffiti incidents are branded ‘hate crimes’

Graffiti incidents are branded ‘hate crimes’

3 August 2022

ATTACKS on property belonging to a prominent member of the Loyal Orders near Clough and an Orange hall in Maghera and have been branded “sectarian hate crimes” by a local politician.

Police are investigating the incidents which took place two weeks apart and pledged to continue working alongside the community, partner agencies and local representatives, to find “collaborative and proactive solutions to address the problem”.

Police have also confirmed that both incidents are being treated as hate crimes and appealed for help as they aim to find out who was responsible, while Slieve Croob councillor Alan Lewis is seeking an urgent meeting with police to discuss what he described as the “notable increase” in hate crimes across the district.

The first incident at the home of a businessman occurred on July 14 at the Moneycarragh Road near Clough when graffiti was daubed on the exterior wall of a shed.

Two weeks later, sectarian graffiti was daubed on the wall of the Orange hall at the Carrigs Road in the village. Paint was also thrown over the front of the building.

Cllr Lewis has condemned both incidents and called for greater police engagement with the Loyal Orders to prevent sectarian hate crime attacks which, he has claimed, are increasing across South Down.

He has also strongly condemned those responsible for both attacks.

Cllr Lewis said the businessman — who does not want to be named — arrived home to discover a threatening message dubbed across the back of his shed.

“The man had just returned from work when he was confronted with a hate-filed message which can be seen from the road,” he revealed. “There has been a sizeable increase of sectarian incidents within the South Down area and I am calling for leadership. 

“Somebody, somewhere knows who is responsible. It’s time they came forward and articulate what their problem is. They need to explain why they can’t live in harmony with their unionist neighbours.”

Cllr Lewis members said members of Maghera Orange Lodge discovered that the building had been targeted, with the paint and graffiti causing significant damage to the property. He also claims some people are directly targeting the Unionist/Orange community.

“There are those within our community intent on raising tension and damaging community relations. This is not acceptable,” he declared.

“Orange halls have remained untouched for many years and while we are told we are living in a time of peace, some see fit to continue age-old conflict by orchestrating a concentrated effort to interfere, damage and vandalise Orange property”.

Cllr Lewis said Orange halls are being improved and used more frequently, with the Loyal Orders and bands going from strength to strength, all benefiting from an increased membership of new young and enthusiastic members.

The Slieve Croob politician said neither the unionist community nor Orange Order will be silenced, insisting that those responsible for the recent attacks “need to come clean and explain their agenda”

And he confirmed that he has asked police to “fully engage” with the Orange Order community and ensure that crime prevention officers are made available to give advice to members who wish to protect their respective halls.

In addition, Cllr Lewis said the Department of Justice must realise that attacks on Orange halls are part of a “concentrated effort” to damage property and raise tension and that funds must be made available for the protection of Orange Order property.

PSNI Inspector Darren Hardy said police are aware of both recent incidents and that their enquiries are continuing into hate crimes.

“We are aware of concerns raised by local representatives and will continue to work alongside the community, partner agencies and local representatives to find collaborative and proactive solutions to address the problem,” he added.

Anyone who can assist police with their enquiries in relation to the Moneycarragh Road incident is asked to get in touch using the non-emergency 101 number, quoting reference 1823 of 14/07/22.

In relation to the graffiti attack on Maghera Orange hall, anyone who can help is asked to use the same telephone number, quoting reference 138 of 28/07/22.

Information can also be provided anonymously using the confidential Crimestoppers number 0800 555111, while a report can be submitted online via