Irish Republican News · January 14, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Depraved attack on Milltown Cemetery

Loyalists have been blamed for the desecration of the grave of Gerry Adams's father and for leaving a suspect pipe-bomb at a memorial plot to Bobby Sands and other republicans.

Twenty-two graves and memorials were smashed at Milltown Cemetery in west Belfast, including those of the 1981 hunger strikers.

Following a controllled explosion, the device was declared a hoax.

A phone claim was made on behalf of `West Belfast Hoods', but this was being treated with scepticism.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Michael Browne said he believed the pipe bomb indicated loyalist involvement.

``The discovery of this device clearly adds up to an even more sinister element and indicates that loyalists may well have been behind the damage and the attempted bomb attack,'' he said.

The damaged memorials to the hunger strikers and the Gibraltar Three, among others were situated inside the republican plot.

However the grave of Gerry Adams Snr, who was buried in November, lies just outside the Republican plot.

Mr Adams's name has not yet been inscribed on the headstone, yet it was smashed into four large pieces.

Liam Shannon of the Belfast National Graves Association said he believed this showed the vandals knew what they were looking for.

``The same thing happened here four years ago. It cost thousands of pounds to repair,'' said Mr Shannon.

``This was sheer vandalism. They did every headstone in the plot.''

Cllr Browne described the desecration as an ``act of depravity''.

``This is an act of wanton vandlism. It is a depravity carried out on a large scale,'' he said.

``This is a place where families come to remember their loved ones who died in tragic circumstances,'' he said.

``For many people this has re-opened a very difficult chapter in their lives, when they underwent considerable pain as a result of loved ones who died in tragic circumstances,'' he said.

However Cllr Browne added that the necessary repair work would be carried out ``as soon as possible''.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News