DCSIMG

Anger as arch on Garvaghy Road is painted

THERE has been an appeal for tolerance after an Orange arch at the bottom of the Garvaghy Road was painted in republican colours in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Both poles of the Parkmount arch were painted green, white and orange, and republican graffiti was also daubed on a nearby wall and gates.

Ivan Forbes, an Upper Bann officer of Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) and a member of the arch committee, said this was the second attack on the arch in the past two weeks.

Up until now, he said, the arch, which is at least 40 years old, had been left untouched for the past three years.

He said, "Last week, there was republican graffiti scrawled on the poles and this week they painted the poles. This area and this town is meant to be a shared space. It's there for all of use to work within and share.

"The arch is causing no harm and no offence to anybody. The only symbols that are on it are of the Red Cross, for the Black Institution, and an open Bible. The symbol of the arch dates back to 1800 and means equality for all."

On Wednesday morning, Mr Forbes along with two other men, were given a police escort while they repainted the arch.

He added, "The arch will be taken down again on August 1 and we hope there won't be any repeat of the damage. There are a lot of decent people living in the Churchill and Ballyoran areas, and members of the nationalist community have told me of their unhappiness that the arch was defaced.

"However, there is an element within the local area who want to heighten tension and draw police into the area.

suspicious

"I would ask the local community to stand by us and report any suspicious activity to the police. I would also call for no retaliatory attacks from loyalists or from anyone within the Protestant community. "

Police confirmed that they were investigating the damage. They are keen to speak to anyone who witnessed the damage being caused or who noticed any suspicious activity in the area. The number to call is 0845 600 8000.

Meanwhile, in the early hours of Saturday, a car was set alight on the Garvaghy Road. According to police, a large crowd had also gathered in the area at the time.

Said Mr Forbes, "I phoned the police because I had wanted the road sealed off at both ends. It's a main thoroughfare in and out of the town and I didn't want any members of the public getting their cars hijacked."

Police confirmed that a car had been set alight, and have appealed for information.

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