No prosecutions in Northern Ireland for defacing road signs in five years
THERE have been no prosecutions in the past five years for defacing a road sign in Northern Ireland.
Although no formal investigations have been carried out by road officials, there have been numerous incidents of signs being vandalised.
In July, the Irish wording of several signs in the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area, including on Ballyward Road near Castlewellan, were obscured by black spray paint.
In the same month, up to four Irish language road signs around Park Village, which is close to Dungiven, were also vandalised.
Signs using the word Londonderry - often sprayed to blacken out the 'London' lettring - are also a regular target.
In response to a written question from DUP East Derry MLA Adrian McQuillan, infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard confirmed that it is a criminal offence "for a person to unlawfully and intentionally interfere with or damage a traffic sign".
Mr Hazzard said: "The member will, however, appreciate the many difficulties in proving a case in this regard, as the courts will require substantial and clear evidence before an effective prosecution can be brought.
"Over the past five years, no formal investigations into specific incidents have been carried out by my department and no prosecutions taken."
Mr McQuillan told The Irish News he had asked for details of prosecutions after becoming fed up looking at signs for 'Londonderry' which had been defaced.
He said: "We are in 2016 but yet some morons can't accept a sign. It looks bad to tourists that are moving between our two main cities.
"We are sitting up in government with Sinn Fein, trying to move on and do our best for the country and it doesn't give you much hope for the future."
Mr McQuillan added: "I do expect the department to come out and paint over it at least."