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Newry community rallies in response to cenotaph attack

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

THE desecration of a number of poppy wreaths that had been placed on Newry Cenotaph has been roundly condemned.
At some time between 6pm on Friday, July 13, and 11am on Saturday, July 14, the wreaths were thrown onto the riverbed of the Clanrye River.
However, in response to the vandalism, members of the community rallied together to retrieve the poppy wreaths and place them back on the cenotaph.
Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor described the incident as "despicable" and pointed out that the vandalism took place not even a week after the poppy wreaths at Narrow Water Castle were also destroyed.
“The local community are understandably disgusted at this incident and are very clear that the perpetrators of this shameful act do not speak for the vast majority of citizens in Newry," he continued.
“This was reflected in the fact that members of the local community assisted with the retrieval of the wreaths from the river.
“There are still some unfortunately who are determined to try and cause division, driven by a narrow sectarian mindset and it is sickening to see a cenotaph targeted in this way as they pursue their warped agenda.
“I would appeal to anyone with information on this hate crime to report it to police immediately to ensure that those responsible for this heinous action are brought to justice."
The SDLP's Michael Savage has asked those who threw the wreaths into the river, "what did your actions achieve?".
“This was a mindless act of vandalism that achieved nothing other than cause hurt to the families of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in two world wars," said the Newry councillor.
“I am an Irishman who recognises that thousands of fellow Irishmen died fighting to protect our way of life. Many of them from our city and surrounding areas from all faiths.
“I believe in a New Ireland that respects all traditions on this island and I work towards creating that New Ireland. Those responsible for this terrible act of disrespect do nothing to help achieve that New Ireland.
“I would ask them what did their actions achieve and ask them to reflect on the hurt they are causing in their own community."
Meanwhile, Newry and Armagh MLA Conor Murphy added that monuments and memorials should be respected.
“This criminal act at the Newry Cenotaph is wrong and I condemn it," said the Sinn Fein representative. "There is no place for attacks like this in our society.
“Monuments and memorials are important places of commemoration and remembrance within communities and should be respected.
“Those involved in these criminal acts need to be apprehended and face the full rigours of the law. Anyone with information in relation to this criminal act should contact the PSNI."
A spokesperson for the PSNI added: "We are investigating criminal damage caused to a number of wreaths at the Newry Cenotaph.
“Between 6pm on July 13, and 11am on July 14, several wreaths were removed from the cenotaph and thrown into the river.
“Strong community spirit rallied and a number of local folk took it upon themselves to salvage the wreaths. They borrowed a ladder from a local business and together they gathered up all the wreaths from the river bed and replaced them onto the cenotaph.
“The same spirit was not apparent in those who desecrated the cenotaph in the first instance but Newry folk stood together to put it right.
“This incident is being treated as a hate crime and our enquiries are continuing. If you saw anything or know anything please call us on 101 and quote ref 539 14/07/18.
“You can also tell us what you know by contacting Crimestoppers UK on 0800 555 111 who will listen to your information and pass it to us 100% anonymously."

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