Stolen poppy wreaths recovered from river by 'cross community' human chain
WREATHS torn from a war memorial in Newry and thrown into a muddy riverbed were retrieved by a "cross section of the community" and replaced within hours.
The vandalism of the cenotaph at Bank Place was spotted by people making their way to work in the town on Saturday.
Before long they had formed a human chain to gather the poppies from Clanrye River and return them to the display.
It came less than a week after wreaths remembering 18 soldiers killed at Warrenpoint were damaged at the Narrow Water Memorial.
Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor said both were "despicable" actions.
"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.
"This was reflected in the fact that a cross section of the Newry 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 mind-set 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."
Newry and Armagh Sinn Féin assembly member Conor Murphy said that there are "no place for such attacks like this in our societ"y.
"This criminal act at the Newry Cenotaph is wrong and I condemn it," he said.
"Monuments and memorials are important places of commemoration and remembrance within communities and should be respected."
He also urged anyone with information to contact police, saying "those involved in these criminal acts need to be apprehended and face the full rigours of the law".