Statue of Mary vandalised in west Belfast: Police treating attack as sectarian hate crime
Police are treating an attack on a statue of Mary in west Belfast as a sectarian hate crime.
It's understood it was severely damaged as thieves attempted to steal it between Thursday night and the early hours of Friday morning.
The ruined effigy is located close to the Milltown Cemetery on the Falls Road.
The attack is being treated as a sectarian hate crime.
It comes after there were calls for Virgin Mary stolen from a site in west Belfast to be returned immediately.
West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood has said that the attack was "offensive and upsetting" for local people".
"I understand that the police are treating an attack on the statute of the Virgin Mary in West Belfast as a hate crime and rightly so," said the SDLP man.
"It is very upsetting for local people to see the statue damaged in this way and is incredibly offensive that anyone would behave in this way.
"This is completely irresponsible action, and I would encourage those of influence in the community to discourage this kind of behaviour."
Locals claimed the statue appeared on a loyalist bonfire in Lanark Way.
Police have said they are aware of the claims and are investigating. Loyalists in the Lanark Way area have denied it was on the bonfire.
DUP councillor Brian Kingston appealed for anyone with information on the "upsetting crime" to contact the PSNI.