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UUP councillor hits out over dissident republican sticker on sign supporting health workers during coronavirus crisis

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‘Sickened’: Glenn Barr

‘Sickened’: Glenn Barr

‘Sickened’: Glenn Barr

A sign in support of the NHS was targeted by vandals and branded with a Saoradh emblem in Co Down at the weekend.

The blue poster on the Newry Road in Rathfriland had the Irish words 'Go raibh maith agat' ('Thank you') and '9-in-a-row', a nod to Celtic Football Club, painted on it.

A black and green sticker in support of the dissident republican group Saoradh, which is linked to the New IRA, was also plastered on the sign.

Locals made the discovery on Friday morning and volunteers quickly cleaned the poster, which sits over a Newry, Mourne and Down District Council boundary sign.

Local councillor Glenn Barr said he was "disappointed and sickened" after he was made aware of the vandalism to the sign thanking NHS workers during the Covid-19 crisis.

"It was hard to read, but it said 'thank you' in Irish," said the UUP politician.

"If they had have just done that it wouldn't have been as much of a problem, but they also put '9-in-a-row' on it, which leans towards Celtic.

"There was also a sticker from republican dissident group Saoradh at the bottom right hand corner of the sign, which makes it a lot more sinister instead of just writing thank you in Irish.

"I was disappointed and sickened because our NHS is there to serve each and every one of us regardless of political, religious or of no persuasion.

"It was just disappointing that people would go out of their way to put a sticker there.

"By and large, people within the NHS will have their own religious or political persuasions, but they'll not want to see this."

Mr Barr added that the vandalism was "absolutely disrespectful" to the NHS

"I would call for the vandals to obviously stay at home," he said.

"Our key project is to safeguard the NHS and safeguard our population."

Belfast Telegraph