Fury as Narrow Water soldiers' memorial vandalised
Police treating damage to wreaths as hate crime
Police are treating the vandalism of poppy wreaths at Narrow Water in Co Down over the weekend as a hate crime, the PSNI revealed yesterday.
The wreaths, which commemorate the 18 soldiers killed in two IRA bomb blasts on August 27, 1919, were targeted some time on Saturday or Sunday.
The incident, which was roundly condemned by the UUP and Sinn Fein on Monday, is the latest to take place at the memorial, which over the years has been targeted numerous times.
Last May, wreaths and crosses at the site were damaged.
Each year the anniversary of the IRA atrocity is marked at the site by family members of those killed in the attack.
The latest incident also marks the second occasion poppy wreaths have been targeted in south Down in recent weeks.
Speaking yesterday, UUP councillor David Taylor said that he was "disgusted" the Narrow Water wreaths had been targeted at the weekend, and described it as an act of "desecration".
"It is difficult to comprehend the sickening mindset of the individuals who perpetrated this vile act and I know that this most recent incident will be condemned by the vast majority of right thinking people within the local community," he said. "Unfortunately, incidents of this nature have occurred far too often at Narrow Water, highlighting that there are still those within society who are determined to inflict further pain upon those who lost loved ones through evil acts of terrorism. The perpetrators of this hate crime are driven by a petty sectarian mentality.
"This latest act of desecration will not deter any of us within the local community who are determined to pay their respects to the soldiers who laid down their lives at Narrow Water in service of our country.
"Their brave service will never be forgotten and I have no doubt there will continue to be visible displays of remembrance placed at Narrow Water."
Although the IRA was responsible for the massacre, South Down Sinn Fein MLA Sinead Ennis also condemned the poppy vandalism.
She said there is "no place for attacks like (this one) in our society".
"This incident was wrong and I condemn it," she said.
"There is no place for attacks like in our society. Monuments and memorials are important places in communities and should be respected.
"I would encourage anyone with information on this incident to contact the PSNI."
In June, wreaths laid at the war memorial in Kilkeel were damaged by vandals and thrown into a nearby river in an attack that was condemned by Newry, Mourne and Down independent councillor Henry Reilly.
"The memorial was not created as a political project but solely as a means of respecting the memory of all those who died in our council area due to their service," he said at the time.
Police are appealing to anyone with information about the weekend attack to contact police in Ardmore Police Station on 101, quoting the reference 943 with the date 08/07/2018.