Donegal 'stay at home' graffiti sparks angry exchanges

The "stay at home" warning was painted on road signs in the west Donegal Gaeltacht.
Seamus McKinney

GRAFFITI painted on road signs in the Co Donegal Gaeltacht warning visitors to stay away over the coronavirus has sparked angry exchanges.

Independent councillor Micheál Mac Giolla Easbuig posted a picture of a defaced road sign bearing the Irish language warning ”Campervans fan sa bhaile” (campervans stay at home).

He also advised: “Be safe everyone and stay at home in your community.”

The graffiti in west Donegal comes after politicians in the area called for beaches and other amenities to be closed after the county was inundated with Northern Ireland visitors over the weekend.

Opinion on the graffiti was split on social media with some condoning the warning and others condemning it. One man asked where the sign was so that he could remove the graffiti.

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Among those criticising the signs was well known musician and Altan singer Mairead Ní Mhaonaigh.

“We depend on visitors in this part of the world economically. We don’t deface signs to do this, we educate and give knowledge why it’s so wrong to put our citizens under compromise during this crisis.

“This can be done in a civilised way. We are only polarising the people that our economy depends on in ordinary times with this action," she said.

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However, Mr Mac Giolla Easbuig replied that the person who painted the graffiti could be someone possibly seeking to protect a sick family member or neighbour.

He said: “They see all that happened over the weekend around our coast. A message to people coming here thinking sure we will head to Donegal for a few days. Maybe a covidiot (sic) or someone that wants to protect their family and community. They should cop on alright.”

The row over the sign was also taken up by people north of the border with some pointing out that there had been a huge influx of Co Donegal visitors into Derry and Strabane for shopping in the last fortnight.

One man, James Doherty, posted on Facebook: “Same goes for all the DL cars with 4/5 per car pulling up in the car parks of Tesco, Lidl and Sainsbury’s in Derry.”

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