Belfast Telegraph

Anger as tourists lose passports in mugging at Falls Road mural wall

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

Two French tourists have had their passports stolen during a robbery in west Belfast.

The man and woman had been visiting the 'international wall' of murals on the Falls Road at around 4.45pm yesterday when they were mugged by a gang.

It's not clear what part of France the victims come from or how they will now travel home.

A police spokesman said: "It was reported to police that a number of youths had stolen a bag containing passports and a sum of cash from a couple in the area on holiday."

SDLP councillor for the area Colin Keenan told the Belfast Telegraph he was shocked to learn of the daylight attack and emphasised the importance of tourism for the west Belfast economy.

"I was very surprised when I heard about the robbery," he said.

"It happened during rush hour in a very busy area. It is to be totally condemned. So much of the economy in west Belfast is based on tourism, so we do not want this sort of behaviour to cast a shadow on the area.

"We have the Feile festival only days away, a real celebration which attracts people to the area and something that gives more of a representative picture of west Belfast.

"We want as many tourists as possible to visit our part of the city and it would be a shame if the robbery would impinge on that in any way."

Sinn Fein MLA Fra McCann (right) urged anyone with information to contact the police.

"These criminals are not welcome in our community and the sooner they are taken out of it the better," he added.

Yesterday's robbery comes after a spate of vandalism attacks on graves at the City Cemetery, also on the Falls Road.

Mr Keenan explained there was an ongoing anti-social behaviour problem in the graveyard area at night, with some people using it as a drinking den.

"Around six graves have been vandalised over the last few days," he said.

"Headstones have been smashed and candle wax poured on others.

"It's very upsetting for the families and I hope nothing like this happens again."

He added: "If anything is sacred in this day and age surely it's this, so I would ask people to be vigilant and report anything to the police."

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