Posters for eirigi candidate Maire Drumm are being vandalised in the Colin area of West Belfast, the party has said, as Sinn Fein and rival republicans continue to contest the visual spaces open to their communities.
A message posted on eirigi’s Facebook page said that a number of men were seen to “systematically” target Drumm’s posters using long lengths of timber.
“All other election candidates posters were left untouched. Other posters have been set on fire, while more still have been removed completely. We don’t believe these attacks to have been mindless vandalism, but instead the co-ordinated work of our political opponents,” they said. “eirigi will not be intimidate or silenced by such attacks.”
An independent republican council candidate in north Belfast has separately hit out at the PSNI after canvassers were arrested for putting up election posters in north Belfast.
Independent republican candidate Dee Fennell said four members of his election team were held under “anti-terror” legislation on Wednesday as they erected posters on the Cliftonville Road. The Ardoyne man said all four were stopped and searched.
“This disruption of legitimate campaigning for an electoral candidate is political policing in its most blatant form,” he said. “However any intimidation from state agencies only strengthens the determination of local republican and community activists.”
His complaint comes after Davy Hyland, an independent election candidate in Newry, also accused the PSNI of political policing when 15 of his canvassers were detained during a similar operation.
Sinn Fein has also complained that its posters have been removed across the North, in both unionist and nationalist areas, without saying who it believes was responsible.
Meanwhile, the party has responded to criticism and voluntarily removed a new mural of Gerry Adams on the Falls Road in west Belfast, near Divis Street.
The move comes just two weeks after the mural was erected as Mr Adams was being questioned about IRA activities by the PSNI earlier this month.
The mural, which included Mr Adams’ face along with the words ‘Peacemaker, Leader, Visionary’, featured in international news coverage of his arrest. Rival republicans and historians strongly condemned the decision to erase the existing conflict-era mural of the Falls Road curfew featuring Maire Drumm, the mother of the eirigi election candidate of the same name.
The Adams mural is now to be replaced by a new one supporting the campaign for an independent review into the killing of 11 civilians by the Parachute Regiment in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast in 1971.
Elsewhere, the party was blaming ‘dissidents’ in Omagh for paint thrown at a poster outside the party’s office in the County Tyrone town.
“The despicable act by these culprits was made all the worse as they used the sanctity of church grounds to launch their attack,” said former local Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty.
“Due to the seriousness of this latest incident, we have reported it to the PSNI who have retrieved material from the scene.”