Sectarian, racial tensions on the rise
Graffiti threatening the life of Glasgow Celtic soccer boss Neil Lennon has been daubed on a chapel in east Belfast.
Red paint was used to scrawl the words “Lenon (sic) RIP” on St Matthew’s in the Short Strand overnight and a hangman was also drawn on the wall.
Spotlights around the recently renovated building were also smashed in the attack by vandals, apparently infuriated by a Celtic victory over Rangers in a Scottish Cup match on Wednesday.
Sectarianism is increasingly a factor in the ‘Old Firm’ games, with Rangers fans routinely chanting racist or sectarian hate songs, such as ‘The Billy Boys’ and ‘The Famine Song’.
Local Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile, who attended the scene with PUP leader Brian Ervine, said he was disgusted by the graffiti and that those responsible need to “wise up”.
“This attack in wholly unjustifiable and has caused considerable damage. As many parishioners came to mass this morning they were understandably very upset at the damage caused,” he said.
“I, along with other community representatives within the Short Strand, did not back away from our responsibilities when the local memorial on the Newtownards Road was attacked and vandalised.
“I was glad to welcome Brian Ervine to St Matthew’s so he could see the damage for himself - I commend him for that stand he has taken today and I believe that we can collectively send a message on behalf of our communities that we want this to stop and stop now.”
Lurgan man Lennon has been subjected to numerous threats in the past - including bullets sent to him in the post.
Meanwhile, loyalists were also blamed for racist graffiti on homes in south Belfast.
The swastika signs were discovered painted on walls in the Botanic area on Wednesday evening.
An anti-racism campaigner in the area has called for vigilance against campaigns of intimidation.
“Swastikas and slogans are aimed at intimidating migrant workers and ethnic minorities in the area,” said Paddy Meehan, who organised a community protest against attacks on Romanian families in 2009.
“If these racists are allowed to continue this unacceptable behaviour people will begin to fear for their safety.”
Meanwhile, plans for a so-called ‘peace line’, a high fence to separate two communities at an interface in Derry look set to go ahead.
It’s expected that the 170-metre long fence at the playing fields at Lisnagelvin in the Waterside are of the city will be erected as soon as possible to prevent further violence following a spate of sectarian incidents.
Sinn Fein’s Gerry Mac Lochlainn, who is a member of the local ‘Community Safety Forum’, said he had attended many meetings between the PSNI and others about the issue and that the meeting had been very helpful.
He added: “It is unfortunate that we have to put up fences but there is a saying that goes ‘good fences make good neighbours’.”