TWO halls and a football club in the Rathfriland area were the victims of sectarian graffiti attacks at the weekend, sparking outrage from local representatives.
The letters IRA were daubed in yellow paint across Grallagh Band Hall, Drumlough Orange Hall and Rathfriland Football club, as well as a road sign at Drumlough.
The attacks were condemned as a “pathetic attempt at stirring tension”, as politicians and hall representatives made clear their disgust.
A spokesman for Drumlough LOL 153, who use the hall, said the attacks were pointless.
“The lodge members simply cannot understand the motivation behind this as there is good relations in this area with all our neighbours,” he said.
“Obviously it appears to be the work of young people out and about on Saturday night as a council sign, in the nearby town of Rathfriland, was defaced with a similar slogan and the same colour of paint.
“Many of our members give of their time volunteering for a variety of local organisations for the betterment of the entire community. As a lodge we collectively work hard for the local community also and have raised approximately £4,500 over the past 10 years for local charities.”
Local councillors Liz Ingram and Glenn Barr said they hoped the attacks would not be successful in their aim of creating tensions in the community.
Councillor Ingram said, “We have excellent community relations here in Rathfriland and I am confident this mindless vandalism will do nothing to destroy that.”
“Attacks on property achieve nothing,” added Councillor Barr. “This was obviously a pre-planned attempt at de-facing property as the same yellow paint was used. Hopefully someone saw people acting suspiciously and will pass on the information to police.”
South Down UUP MLA John McCallister described the attacks as “pointless and pathetic”.
“I was made aware of this at the weekend and its very obvious it is a pathetic attempt at stirring tension at this time. However a tin of yellow spray paint will not destroy great community relations in Rathfriland and I would urge those responsible to grow up and leave property alone.
“The groups and organisations now have to start a clean-up and I really hope this will be the end of it. It’s very disheartening for those affected and I know a huge amount of work has recently been completed at Drumlough Orange Hall. This is extremely disappointing for everyone at Drumlough when they see their property targeted in this way.”
Mr McCallister said he urged anyone with information on the incidents to contact police immediately on 08456008000.