Northern Ireland news

Images of masked and armed men branded 'sinister'

Armed and masked men in Crumlin
Connla Young

SINN Féin has condemned a paramilitary-style show of strength in a Co Antrim village.

Images of masked and armed men standing outside Ballydonaghy Meadows, in Crumlin, emerged as graffiti was sprayed on a wall in the area earlier this week.

The images have been circulated on social media over recent days and show two men dressed in combat jackets and jeans standing outside the estate.

Both can been seen holding what appear to be handguns.

It is not known if they are real or replicas.

One of the pictures is captioned 'RAD' with a tricolour.

Graffiti also appeared in the area warning 'IRA territory drug dealers out'.

Sinn Féin assembly member for the area Declan Kearney last night said he was aware of the "sinister images".

"Using the estate as a backdrop for this display of intimidation is a completely mindless action," he said.

Mr Kearney said those involved are seeking to create fear.

“This is another instance of anti-community activity in Crumlin carried out by a small number of criminal mavericks whose sole motivation is to create fear and alarm," he said.

SDLP Councillor Thomas Burns also condemned the images.

"These images of masked men standing in our community are a cause for great concern and are extremely unwelcome," he said.

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said they received a report on Wednesday that graffiti had been sprayed on property in the Ballydonaghy Meadows area and added they "are also aware of images circulating on social media and enquiries are continuing".

Police said they were not able to confirm if there is a link between the masked men and the graffiti adding "it is one line of enquiry at this point in the investigation".

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