Belfast Telegraph

Condemnation after sectarian graffiti daubed near west Belfast Caterpillar site

By Claire Williamson

Sectarian graffiti daubed on a wall near a Northern Ireland industrial plant in west Belfast has been condemned.

The graffiti was scrawled near Caterpillar's west Belfast plant.

The DUP's William Humphrey says he has written to the Chief Constable regarding the issue.

He said: "Sectarian graffiti designed to intimate workers from the PUL community and deter them from working or seeking employment at Caterpillar's West Belfast plant.

"Previous attempts to intimate Protestant workers at the plant failed. This will also fail."

Mr Humphrey said the party is seeking a meeting with Unite union and the PSNI.

A spokesman for Caterpillar said they had removed the graffiti and that they are "strongly committed" to ensuring a safe working environment.

He said: "We removed some sectarian graffiti that had been posted outside our Springvale facility yesterday.

"We have communicated internally about this and are strongly committed to ensuring that we provide a safe and inclusive working environment for all of our employees."

In a statement Unite union said it had contacted political leaders from DUP and Sinn Fein to "seek to calm the situation".

Unite Regional Secretary, Jackie Pollock, confirmed that he had been in contact with political representatives in relation to the incident.

He said: “This sectarian slogan is a reprehensible attempt to divide workers and will not be allowed to succeed. Unite represents this workforce and they stand united against those who offer nothing positive.

“Unite has sought to contact political leaders from the DUP and Sinn Fein to calm the situation. We welcome the fact that leaders on both sides of the community divide have come out strongly against this graffiti”, Mr Pollock finished.

Unite Regional Officer, Susan Fitzgerald, condemned those behind it.

She said: “The sectarian scrawl written on a wall outside the Caterpillar site in Springvale has been designed to intimidate and divide workers – it cannot and will not be allowed to succeed.

“Workplaces are the one place in Northern Ireland where people come together across the sectarian divides. Over the decades there have been those on both sides who have attempted to sow division but the trade union movement and our union, Unite, in particular has taken a stand against those forces.

“Unite stands full square against sectarianism and intimidation and the disgusting graffiti at Springvale today. Anyone that threatens a hair on the head of any one of our members is an enemy of our union. Our solidarity is our strength."

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson condemned those behind the threatening graffiti.

Mr Dickson said: “This type of graffiti was designed to intimidate one particular section of our community when entering a certain area. But it has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated.

“Those behind this graffiti are not representative of the vast majority of people, who will rightly find its message abhorrent. We are constantly working to make all parts of Northern Ireland open and welcoming to all, and sectarian graffiti such as this will not stop that.

“I would appeal to anyone with information on this disgusting incident to take it to police immediately.”

SDLP councillor Tim Attwood branded the graffiti a "disgrace".

He said: “There is no impediment to anyone in this city working in west Belfast, regardless of their religion, ethnicity or their background. Workers in this part of Belfast have enough to contend with without turning on each other along sectarian lines.

“We continue to be starved of critical investment and regularly appear at the lower end of INVEST NI grant tables. The proportion of working families relying on foodbanks to provide for their children continues to increase. If the cowards who daubed this graffiti think that attacking our friends and neighbours will solve any of that, they’re sadly mistaken.

“West Belfast is open for business and open for work for everyone.

“I would appeal to anyone with information to bring it to the PSNI.”

In a statement, the PSNI said: "Police are aware of graffiti having appeared at the premises. A number of concerns have been raised with us and at this time the matter is being investigated. All appropriate action will be taken. Police would also ask anyone with information to contact police by calling the non-emergency number 101."

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