Northern Ireland news

NI Water reports 'break-in' after flags erected at Rathfriland tower

Union and Northern Ireland flags placed on a water tower in Rathfriland, Co Down. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes

NI Water has said it is "dealing with a break-in" and has informed police after flags were erected on a water tower.

Union and Northern Ireland flags have been placed on top of the 110ft structure in Rathfriland, Co Down.

The top of the tower in the Co Down town has also been painted red, white and blue.

NI Water said the flags were "erected without permission" and the public body is organising their "safe removal".

"It is believed the outer wall was scaled and the strengthened lock to the tower's inner steel access door was cut open," a spokeswoman said in a statement.

Built in 1977, the tower holds almost 700,000 litres of water and supplies Rathfriland town.

Sinn Féin South Down MP Chris Hazzard branded the display an "act of vandalism" and questioned how access was gained to the tower.

"Given the scale of this building, it clearly was not possible to carry out this vandalism without gaining access to the tower," he said.

"NI Water have questions to answer about how this was allowed to happen, and I will be raising those questions directly with senior management."

He added: "Rathfriland is a mixed town and this display was clearly intended to mark out territory and intimidate.

A PSNI spokeswoman said a report was received on Tuesday afternoon at about 3.30pm.

"Police received a report of flags being erected and damage being caused to a water tower in the Rathfriland area," she said.

"Enquiries are ongoing."

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