United call for an end to tit-for-tat graffiti attacks
A united call has been made from nationalist and unionist councillors in north Antrim for graffiti attacks and other sectarian incidents in the area to stop.
The cross-community message follows a graffiti attack at McQuillan GAA club in Ballycastle early yesterday.
That attack came just days after graffiti was sprayed on the walls of Ballycastle Orange hall where an Irish tricolour was also erected on a flagpole.
There has been ongoing tension in the north Antrim area in recent weeks with controversy about a Union flag being erected on a pole inside the grounds of a Catholic church in Dervock.
Further controversy erupted when a banner was placed on an Eleventh night bonfire in Dervock which threatened that independent republican councillor Padraig McShane – who had criticised on the church flag – was a "dead man".
Phrases written on Ballycastle Orange hall included 'Tiocfaidh ár lá', 'IRA' and 'Huns Out', and at the GAA club similar phrases were also daubed.
Some locals were baffled by the phrases used on the GAA hall and one local man, who didn't wish to be named, said: "One theory is that the words 'Huns Out' and 'IRA' were being used in irony in a tit-for-tat response to what was put on the Orange hall, but whatever the reason it is still stoking up tensions in the area and both the Orange hall and GAA club will have to do a clean-up."
Independent nationalist councillor Seamus Blaney, Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane and Ulster Unionist councillor Joan Baird condemned the attacks and appealed for calm.
Ms Baird said: "These attacks are not characteristic of the people of Ballycastle, it is only a minority.
"These attacks are childish and infantile on both the Orange hall and the Gaelic club and I'm sure those responsible are trying to incite things."
Mr Blaney said both attacks were a "bloody disgrace", adding: "We always had good community relations in Ballycastle but it has folded up in recent days."