Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's O'Dowd hits out at vandals who attacked war memorial

The damage by vandals to Lurgan cenotaph
The damage by vandals to Lurgan cenotaph
The damage by vandals to Lurgan cenotaph
The Sinn Fein posters on top of the poppy display
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

A Sinn Fein Westminster candidate has condemned vandals who attacked a war memorial and placed his election posters on top of a poppy display.

Several crosses were pulled out of the ground in the attack on Lurgan cenotaph on Monday evening.

Poppy wreaths were ripped from the monument and scattered around it.

Election posters for John O'Dowd, Sinn Fein's candidate for Upper Bann, were placed on top of a display at the cenotaph.

Mr O'Dowd confirmed yesterday he would be reporting the matter to police.

The Sinn Fein candidate said the theft of his election posters and the attack on the cenotaph was wrong.

"Monuments and memorials are important places in communities and should be respected," he added.

"The motivation of those behind these acts remains unclear, but it is unacceptable and I will be reporting the matter.

"I would encourage anyone with information on this incident to contact the PSNI."

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart condemned the vandalism and called on all political parties to follow suit.

"When we see the desecration of a war memorial which is there to remember British and Irish men who died beside each other in defence of our freedom, it is to be condemned by all," Ms Lockhart added.

"It beggars belief that people could stoop to this level. It advances nobody's cause.

"I would call on all local politicians to unite in condemnation of this abhorrent act and to take a stand in their communities that we want to build a better, more tolerant Northern Ireland for all of our people."

Ms Lockhart also appealed to anyone with any information about the incident to contact police on the non-emergency 101 number or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Meanwhile, UUP Upper Bann Westminster candidate Doug Beattie described the vandalism as "absolutely deplorable".

"People need to understand that all war memorials in towns and cities around Northern Ireland and the wider United Kingdom represent people who lost their lives in conflicts from all sides of the community," Mr Beattie added.

"There are family members who use memorials as a place to remember and reflect.

"For people to destroy the mementoes, the wreaths or the crosses that they leave in remembrance of their loved ones is not just pathetic, but it's absolutely unchristian and goes against everything society should stand for."

Alliance councillor Peter Lavery described the attack as "sickening" and said it was an incident that does nothing but increase tensions in the community.

The PSNI has appealed for witnesses to come forward, quoting reference number CCS 330 of 03/12/19.

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