Police probe ‘sectarian hate crime’ on bilingual sign

July 25, 2016

Incidents of vandalism on bilingual road signs across the area have been described as “idiotic and futile” by Sinn Féin Councillor Barra Ó Muirí.

Speaking after a recent such incident near Newtownhamilton, Mr Ó Muirí said the Irish language is not to be feared and urged those responsible to consider their actions.

“I would urge them to look into the history of wherever they are from; look into the names of townlands, look at where their ancestors came from and where their own names came from.  It’s a safe bet that the roots of all these things will be in the Irish language.  The Irish language belongs to all of us; it is a part of our shared, common heritage.  It is nothing to be feared or loathed,” he said.

Councillor Ó Muirí said such attacks are a poor reflection on the district: “At a time when we are trying to promote the district as a viable tourist destination, what impression do you think visitors will have of your town or village when the first thing they see is vandalism?”

He called on unionist politicians to show leadership.

“Ever since the Council agreed its bilingual policy certain councillors have been goading people into these actions with their comments.  It is highly irresponsible and frankly, disgusting, for councillors to be encouraging the destruction of council property which then has to be replaced at a cost to the ratepayer.

“I would urge these councillors, who claim to be democrats, to embrace the equality driven bilingual policy that their council voted for and show some leadership in their communities.  The Irish language belongs to all of us and it forms part of the area’s unique cultural appeal to visitors.  I would urge people to work together to make this district a success for everyone rather than engaging in vandalism that only hurts your own communities.”

Meanwhile, police are investigating the incident which occurred on the Blaney Road, Altnamackin and was reported on Monday 11th July and is believed to have happened during the previous night.

Constable Paul Rainey said: “This is being treated as a sectarian hate crime and I would appeal to anyone who was in the area during the night and noticed anything suspicious, or anyone who has information that could help our investigation to contact us on 101 quoting reference 693 of 11th July.

“There have been a number of similar incidents throughout the district and police are keen to identify potential suspects. If you can help, the number to call is 101. Alternatively, information can be given anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111,” he added.