Community united in call for end to ‘tit-for-tat’ vandalism of murals

The Somme mural on Avenue Road Lurgan which was paint bombed
The Somme mural on Avenue Road Lurgan which was paint bombed

Police, politicians and community leaders have called for an end to ‘tit for tat’ vandalism of murals across Lurgan after a Somme memorial was paint bombed this week.

The mural on the Avenue Road, commemorating the WW1 Battle of the Somme, is being treated as a ‘hate crime’.

It follows the burning of a Soldier F banner in Lurgan recently and the paint bombing of republican murals in the north Lurgan area.
Splurges of white paint were discovered on the Avenue Road mural on Monday morning.

CLICK HERE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SOMME MURAL
The DUP and Sinn Fein both have called for an end to the vandalism.

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart called for ‘calm heads and not to get drawn into a tit for tat campaign’.

While Sinn Fein Cllr Keith Haughian called for anyone with influence in communities across Lurgan ‘to bring these attacks to an end’.

Chief Inspector O’Connor said: “I am appealing for anyone with information to please get in touch with police by calling 101.”

A statement from the Avenue Road Somme Society 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. Paint washes off and we will continue to educate our town of the True Heroes Of Ulster.”

Mrs Lockhart said: “This is undoubtedly an attempt to heighten tensions ahead of the marching season. We have seen this with the removal of the banner in the town centre already. 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.”

Cllr Haughian said the paint bomb attack on the Somme mural follows on from recent attacks on republican murals in the town. “At that time I called for no one to do anything which would further raise tensions. I reiterate that call and urge everyone with influence in communities across Lurgan to bring these attacks to an end.

“Defacing monuments which are important to one section of the community or another is quite simply wrong.”

Meanwhile the PSNI has also appealed for calm.

On a Facebook post PSNI Craigavon said: “We have yet again seen the results of a damaging minority trying to provoke hatred and fear amongst the peaceful majority. A mural on Avenue Road in Lurgan was attacked shortly after midnight last night with paint thrown over it.

“This is not the first attack of its kind in recent weeks, and there had been calls from all quarters of the community for calm heads after the last incident. We trust those calls will be repeated now, and ask that they are heeded. The small handful of people on all sides who engage in such activity may act alone, but there will be those who know who they are who can exert influence. It is time for that influence to take hold.

“The summer months can be a tense time, however in recent years we have enjoyed some very productive and responsible engagement across the whole of ABC District to lower tensions, build understanding, and take massive steps towards a more peaceful society. Mature and forward thinking leadership from within communities has lead to a massive reduction in issues we have seen across this district.”