Jewish graves Belfast City Cemetery attack anti-Semitic: Councillor Steven Corr
Thirteen Jewish graves have been damaged at Belfast City Cemetery in an attack branded "anti-community, anti-Belfast, anti social and anti Semitic".
It's thought a large crowd had gathered in the area at around 3pm on Friday with eight youths carrying out the attacks with hammers and blocks.
Headstones were knocked over and smashed in the attack. The concrete covers of some of the graves were also damaged.
Belfast Sinn Fein councillor Steven Corr described the attacks as "anti-community, anti-Belfast, anti-social and anti-Semitic".
He was one of the first on the scene and saw those responsible "stagger off".
"It was sickening," he said.
"They had actually tried - and on several occasions had - smashed the slabs which covered the remains.
"Most of the graves were very old. One from 1897 and the most recent about the 1950s.
"What happened was just disgusting."
DUP MLA William Humphrey said he has been in contact with the Rabbi and members of the Jewish community to express his revulsion.
"A graveyard is a sacred place and should be respected as such," he said.
"And those responsible are guilty of a most heinous hate crime."
The Falls Road cemetery is maintained by the council and is one of the oldest public graveyards in Belfast.
Chief Inspector Norman Haslett added: "This is a particularly sickening incident, which we are treating as a hate crime.
"To disturb the sanctity of a cemetery in this way is completely unacceptable and I can assure the public that we will conduct a robust investigation in a bid to bring those responsible before the courts.
"I have already liaised with local representatives and I will continue to do so regarding this and other issues relating to anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of the cemetery.
"I would appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and witnessed this incident, or to anyone who has any information whatsoever that could assist in our investigation to contact police on the non-emergency number 101 quoting reference 742 of 26th August.
"Alternatively, information can be given anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."