Sectarian graffiti at school blasted

Sectarian graffiti at school blasted

21 August 2019

RESIDENTS at a Downpatrick housing estate have reacted with fury after sectarian graffiti was daubed on a wall near their homes.

The graffiti, which read ‘Soldier F 1, IRA 0’, appeared at the front entrance to Down High School at  Mount Crescent last week, much to the anger and disgust of those who live nearby. 

They have condemned what happened and insist it was not done in their name, with residents adamant that young people from another part of the town were responsible.

A spokesperson for the cross-community Mount Crescent and Bridge Street Residents’ Association said they condemned what happened in the strongest possible terms and did not want to see any more graffiti in the area.

In July, the residents’ group organised a hugely successful fun day which was attended by local people and others from across the town. However, just hours before it was due to start someone painted ‘IRA” on the wall in front of the nearby Pilson Hall.

The spokesperson revealed that when the graffiti appeared last week they contacted a specialist cleaner to have it removed and were prepared to meet the financial cost. However, the businessman agreed to do the work for free.

“No one in Mount Crescent or Bridge Street wants sectarian graffiti. It does not reflect the good people who live at this part of the town,” the spokesperson declared.

“We were left disgusted at what happened given that we are working hard to promote our area and secure new investment, just like many other community groups across Downpatrick. This despicable act was not done in our name and we condemn those responsible.

“We are not prepared to let those responsible have a negative impact on the good people, from all religions and races, who live at this part of Downpatrick. This must not happen again.”

The spokesperson said the residents’ group is a key member of the Downpatrick Community Collective, an umbrella organisation for community groups across the town.

“We all get on well together and take part in joint projects. We trust that our community collective colleagues will recognise that the sentiments expressed in the recent graffiti is not what we are about.

“We work with people from across the town and liaise closely with them on a regular basis. We are vey much a mixed community and indeed are proud of this fact. The graffiti daubed on the wall of Down High School in no way reflects the people of this area.”

The spokesperson said residents were left “shocked and upset” by what was written and were in the process of taking steps to have it removed when a local businessman stepped forward to do it.

“We have a fair idea who was responsible for the graffiti and hope that they will be apprehended. We cannot emphasis enough that what happened was not done on our name and we condemn those behind this. We will not let people tarnish the work that we are doing or the good name of the Mount Crescent and Bridge Street area. 

“We hope the fact that we took steps to contact a specialist cleaner when we were made aware of the graffiti speaks volumes about our views on this matter. Those responsible are clearly not aware of what we are about and the respect we have for all our neighbours across Downpatrick.”

The spokesperson added: “We will not allow what happened to drive a wedge between us and others. If those responsible hoped the finger of blame would be pointed at us, they have failed. Like many others, we were left  disgusted at what happened.”

Downpatrick councillor, John Trainor, said those responsible for the sectarian graffiti did not speak for the majority of local people, in particular, those who live in the Mount Crescent and Bridge Street area.

Slamming the slogan as a “shameful act”, Cllr Trainor described Downpatrick as a “welcoming place where respect is shown to all residents irregardless of creed, culture, religion or race.” He said what happened last week does not reflect the town and its people and was in fact a hate crime.

“Those responsible do not speak for the majority of people here,” declared Cllr Trainor. “There are many families who were impacted by the troubles, including some by collusion with the security forces, and this does not help to heal those wounds which are still very fresh.”

Cllr Trainor added: “I condemn this act and all graffiti that is sectarian in nature which seeks to cause offence and hurt to a particular section of our community.”

Police investigating last week’s incident have issued an appeal for information and want to hear from anyone who can assist them with their enquiries to come forward, using the non-emergency 101 number. Officers have also said they view what happened as a hate crime.