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Outrage after vandals target memorial garden

Vandals have damaged a memorial garden in the Shankill Cemetery, causing physical and sentimental damage to the local community and families of the deceased.

The damage caused to the memorial wall in the graveyard has been described by a loyalist politician as “the worst act of violence I've seen”.

The small memorial garden, that sits in an annexe of the cemetery had 12 plaques from the memorial book destroyed and a further 30 had to be removed following the incident at the Shankill Road cemetery.

The stone book was erected in March 2010 by Belfast City Council after years of local lobbying.

Frank McCoubrey said: “This memorial was erected after a long campaign from Shankill residents and Senior Citizens' Forums and to think that somebody has come in and destroyed it is disgraceful.

“I'll be speaking to the relevant department about increasing the graveyard's security.”

Local resident William Smith, who provides tours of the graveyard, said the perpetrators were attacking their own history.

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“This garden was a new addition to enhance the graveyard, so these people are damaging their own heritage.”

A spokesperson from Belfast City Council said: “It's extremely disappointing that anyone would deliberately cause damage to the memorial garden. It shows a complete lack of respect for the bereaved families.”

Police in north Belfast are appealing for information after the report of criminal damage to the memorial.

A police spokesperson said: “Shortly before 1:45pm (Friday September 30) it was reported to police that a number of memorial tablets had been removed from the scene.

“Anyone who has any information is asked to contact police in north Belfast on 0845 600 8000.”

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