Residents’ group says child wrote ‘disgusting’ graffiti

Residents’ group says child wrote ‘disgusting’ graffiti

8 January 2020

A DOWNPATRICK residents’ group believes that a child may have been responsible for writing “foriegners (sic) out” on the wall of a block of flats in the town.

The housing complex — which borders Church Avenue and Bridge Street — is home to a number of foreign nationals, mainly Romanians, many of whom work locally.

The graffiti is written in chalk, with members of the Bridge Street and Mount Crescent Residents’ Association convinced that it was written by a child, given the style of the writing. They also confirmed that they are seeking a meeting with the owner of the flats complex to have the graffiti removed.

In addition, members of the residents’ group are keen to meet with local councillor, Patrick Brown, whose social media post on the graffiti incident sparked a range of comments — some of them unsavoury about the people who live at this part of the town.

The residents’ group says it takes great exception to people who live in Bridge Street and Mount Crescent being branded “Loyalist bigots”, with Lillian Swaffield and Susan Casement, describing other on-line comments as “inaccurate and distasteful”.

They say Polish and Romanian residents are “part and parcel” of the community at this part of the town and vehemently reject any notion that they live among “bigots”.

Mrs Swaffield said their European neighbours have never had any issues since moving in, with those who moved from Europe to live in Church View opposite Down High School welcomed with open arms by residents.

“The people of Church View are not racist and certainly not bigots as some on social media posts would have you believe. Residents from various faiths and backgrounds live happily together and those who suggest otherwise are wrong,” she continued.

“It is obvious to anyone who looks at the graffiti on the block of flats that a child was responsible. People from all walks of life pass through Bridge Street and Church View and it is a very mixed area.”

Mrs Casement said the residents’ group is a key member of the Downpatrick Community Collective which is an umbrella body for all residents’ and community groups across the town which works on many issues, including bringing an end to anti-social behaviour and graffiti.

“We want this graffiti removed and hope that will happen shortly. It is something that none of us wants to see,” said Mrs Casement. “It also does not reflect the views of the people of Bridge Street and Mount Crescent. To suggest otherwise is nonsense.”

Mrs Casement said the residents’ group is keen to meet with Cllr Brown and hopes that he will accept an invitation to hear what both they and their Polish and Romanian neighbours have to say.

“The graffiti on the block of flats is disgusting and must be removed,” she declared.

“It paints the wrong image of the people who live at this part of the town, including those who have moved from Europe and are very much part and parcel of what is a local and all-embracing mixed community. Our Polish and Romanian neighbours are part of our community. We all look out for one another and are an inclusive society.”

Cllr Brown said he was disappointed to see “foreigners out” written on the wall of the flats complex, branding the graffiti as “racist” and suggesting that those responsible are guilty of a hate crime.

He said the large number of Romanians and other nationalities who live at this part of Downpatrick have every right to work and live in peace in the area.

“This sort of racist, xenophobic behaviour has no place in a welcoming and outward-looking town like Downpatrick and I will be appealing to the PSNI to find out if there is any CCTV in the area which may identify the culprits,” continued Cllr Brown.

“It’s possible that the graffiti has been there for a few days and I would appeal to anyone who sees any suspicious activity in this area to let me know. I have also contacted the relevant agencies to have the graffiti removed.”

Cllr Brown said “hate” has no place in society, explaining that it’s more important than ever against the context of Brexit that everyone continues to stand and speak out against the kind of behaviour which happened recently in the Bridge Street area.