Ex-soldier’s disgust at ‘despicable’ paint attack on Lurgan Somme memorial mural
A former soldier has said an overnight paint bomb attack on a mural commemorating the Battle of the Somme is "a despicable and disgusting act of vandalism".
The Somme Memorial on Avenue Road in Lurgan was daubed with white paint on Sunday night.
Police say they are treating the incident as a sectarian hate crime.
Ulster Unionist MLA and Army war veteran Doug Beattie has condemned those responsible.
"There is surely nothing more disrespectful than attacking a memorial dedicated to the memory of all those who fought and often died so that we could all have the freedom which we enjoy today," the Military Cross recipient said.
"When you stop to think about the horror our soldiers at the Somme actually went through it saddens me that thugs could come in and deface the memorial in an instant.
"The mindless idiots who carried out this attack are the polar opposite of brave men commemorated by it.
"This was quite clearly a hate attack carried out with the intention of heightening tension in the Lurgan area before the summer period.
"It's essential therefore that the people responsible for this attack are identified and brought to justice as quickly as possible and that the community remains calm and does not fall into the trap being set."
Upper Bann DUP MLA Carla Lockhart said the incident was intended to heighten tensions ahead of the marching season.
"I would ask for calm heads and not to get drawn into a tit for tat campaign," Mrs Lockhart said.
"Someone may end up getting seriously injured and this needs to stop now. The paint will be removed and those who died in the battle of the Somme will continue to be remembered.
"It is especially disgusting in the run-up to the commemoration of those who so bravely gave their lives at the Somme, British and Irish. We will continue to remember their sacrifice."
The Avenue Road Somme Society, which maintains the mural, said: "Once again, the ignorant and uneducated fools have attacked a memorial to our brave.
"This mural is historical and educational, and great words spoken by both sides of the community is something that we hold highly.
"Anyone with any information on this attack, please don't be afraid to pass it on to the correct people."
Police are appealing to anyone with information to contact them on the 101 number, quoting reference 902 June 10th.
Last month a 23-year-old man was arrested after a banner of support for Soldier F, who is to be charged with two murders on Bloody Sunday, was pulled down and set alight in High Street in the Co Armagh town.
There was also a spate of attacks on republican murals and monuments to IRA men who died in The Troubles in the Kilwilkie area of Lurgan, which were also daubed with white paint.