Northern Ireland news

Paint attack on Lurgan Somme mural a 'hate crime'

The Somme mural on Avenue Road was paint bombed in the early hours of Monday morning

AN attack on a mural commemorating the Battle of the Somme is being treated as a hate crime by police.

White paint was thrown over the mural at Avenue Road in Lurgan in the early hours of yesterday.

In recent weeks a banner in support of 'Soldier F'', who is being prosecuted over Bloody Sunday, was damaged in the town and republican murals in north Lurgan were also targeted.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie, a former soldier, described the latest attack as "a despicable act".

"There is surely nothing more disrespectful than attacking a memorial dedicated to the memory of all those who fought and often died so that we could all have the freedom which we enjoy today," he said.

"When you stop to think about the horror our soldiers at the Somme actually went through it saddens me that thugs could come in and deface the memorial in an instant.

"The mindless idiots who carried out this attack are the polar opposite of brave men commemorated by it.

"This was quite clearly a hate attack carried out with the intention of heightening tension in the Lurgan area before the summer period.

"It's essential therefore that the people responsible for this attack are identified and brought to justice as quickly as possible and that the community remains calm and does not fall into the trap being set."

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