Ex-mayor's anger at sectarian graffiti on site of new houses
Sectarian graffiti has been daubed on a site where work on more than 80 new houses is due to begin within weeks.
Anti-Catholic slogans were spray-painted on a wall at the former IAWS site at Newbuildings on the outskirts of Londonderry. Just last week Derry City and Strabane Council's planning committee approved plans for the development.
Paul Fleming, who is Sinn Fein group leader on the council, said earmarking houses for one section of the community should be challenged and called on the unionist bloc to voice their opposition to the graffiti.
Councillor Fleming said: "The appearance of this sectarian graffiti is to be condemned by all responsible public representatives.
"The council has a very good community relations reputation and any incident of perceived or actual sectarian intimidation must be confronted and opposed in the strongest terms.
"I am calling on unionist representatives to publicly distance themselves from this action and to work with the rest of us to build a society where religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation is not a barrier to where any individual or family can live.
"Members of the council approved planning permission for 81 new homes on the site of the old IAWS site. This approval was welcomed by all shades of political opinion on council. Approval was given on the basis of need for additional housing not to provide homes for a particular section of our community.
"Unionist representatives must make it clear that when completed these houses will be available to all, irrespective of religion and free from intimidation."
When contacted the DUP in Londonderry declined to comment.
The planning application was approved without contest by the council's committee and will bring back into use a site that has long been empty at the edge of Newbuildings.
The approval won the backing of the DUP.
At that time, councillor Graham Warke said on social media: "Myself and Gary Middleton MLA have been working with the new owner and developer of this site for a considerable time to ensure that it was brought back into use.
"We were pleased to have been involved in the public consultation with the local community."