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Anger as vandals destroy Newry cenotaph wreaths

By Linda Stewart

Vandals destroyed poppy wreaths laid at the cenotaph in Newry in a weekend attack.

The PSNI are investigating after the war memorial at Sugar Island was targeted in an attack believed to have taken place between 2.30pm on Sunday and 9.45am yesterday.

Wreaths were damaged and destroyed, and some were thrown into the nearby canal.

Condemning the attack, Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor said: "It is difficult to comprehend the mindset of those individuals who would set out to perpetrate such a vile act as destroying wreaths at a cenotaph.

"These wreaths commemorate the fallen from two World Wars and it is particularly hard to take that they should be destroyed so close to the centenary of the Battle of Messines, where the 36th (Ulster) Division and the 16th (Irish) Division fought side by side in common cause.

"This incident has caused great anger and disgust within the local community and it should be condemned by all right thinking people.

"It is vital those responsible for this despicable act are brought to justice and punished. I appeal to anyone with any information to contact the PSNI."

It is not the first time in recent years that the Newry cenotaph has been singled out by vandals. In 2014, two men were charged with criminal damage after they were caught on CCTV destroying wreaths and one of them was seen urinating over the memorial.

Members of the Royal British Legion were at the cenotaph yesterday to clear up the mess, but the wreaths that have been destroyed cannot be replaced.

Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy said: "All such attacks are wrong and demand the strongest possible condemnation. This cenotaph is an important and valued memorial for many, and should be respected as such."

Anyone who has information about this incident is asked to contact the PSNI at Ardmore on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 33719/06/17 or Crimestoppers at 0800 555 111.

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