Hate crime sign is condemned

Hate crime sign is condemned

8 November 2017

A SECTARIAN sign erected in Clough last week was removed late yesterday afternoon by Newry, Mourne and Down Council staff.

Derogatory words ‘taigs out’ were daubed on a plywood sheet which was nailed to two planks of wood and erected at a local authority lay-by at the Dundrum Road, in full view of passing motorists.

The presence of the sign has been condemned by Alliance councillor Andrew McMurray and Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International UK’s Northern Ireland Programme Director. The PSNI has confirmed it is treating the incident as a hate crime.

Councillor McMurray said such graffiti “can neither be condoned nor tolerated,” insisting that what happened in Clough has no place in society.

He declared: “Where the graffiti appeared and the tone of the language makes clear it’s aim is to intimidate a section of community from using this particular area. Regardless of who the sentiments are directed at, by directing any section of our society to ‘get out’ is not welcome.

“I do not believe that it is reflective of the good people of Clough; those who work together to make it a welcoming community to the outsider.”

Councillor McMurray added: “While the actions of those responsible for this incident are reprehensible, I struggle to believe that this is the total sum of their parts with which they have to offer society.”

Mr Corrigan, who noticed the graffiti on his way to work on Monday morning, said he reported the presence of the sign to the police and subsequently discovered that the issue had been reported to the PSNI on a number of occasions by others.

“Signs and graffiti such as this are designed to intimidate people and figures published just this week show what a massive problem this is in Northern Ireland, people being intimidated from their homes, particularly because of sectarian or racist motives.” he said.

“It is very concerning to see a sign like this in South Down and for it still to be there almost a week after it was first notified to the authorities.”

Mr Corrigan added: “I think people, of whatever background, will be deeply troubled if the authorities are unwilling or incapable of taking action to remove a sign. How can they offer assurances to people that they are safe within the community?”

The PSNI has confirmed the appearance of the sign daubed with sectarian graffiti at the lay-by in Clough is being treated as a hate crime, explaining the first report about its presence was received on Wednesday afternoon of last week, with additional reports received last Friday evening and on Monday morning of this week.

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

Police have also issued an appeal for information in a bid to trace whoever was responsible for erecting the sign in Clough and are keen for anyone who can help them with their enquiries to get in touch by contacting their local station or using the confidential Crimestoppers number 0800 555111.