A sectarian banner was erected in a Belfast public park to denounce the GAA as “anti-British” and proclaimed the Gaelic Athletics Association is “not welcome”. The sign was later removed by council workers.
The message `Anti British GAA Not Welcome’ was painted in red spray paint on a white banner and hung on railings of Grove Park in north Belfast. Graffiti with the same message was also sprayed on a changing block. A nearby home was targeted with sectarian and paramilitary slogans painted on the house, and a family car was damaged.
Earlier this month, sectarian graffiti (‘GAA = IRA’) appeared on the park’s pavilion but was painted over by council staff.
The area of Grove Park is located only a few feet away from a hall used by the anti-Catholic Orange Order, and is just 500 yards from Alexandra Park, which has a three-metre high ‘peace wall’ running through the middle.
Sports commentator Brendan Crossan said the intimidation started after some children turned up in the park to practice hurling.
“There is a small minority in the unionist community who don’t want the Grove Playing Fields to be a shared space. They want separate parks for Catholics and Protestants.”
He said there had been “far too much silence from unionist representatives”.
“How long would it take for an on-call press officer working the Sunday shift to cut and paste a two-line press statement, insisting that all cultures and traditions must be respected, but especially in shared spaces?”
The banner is the latest in a series of sectarian incidents using banners and murals to try to frighten Catholics in the north of the city, Many targeted Sinn Féin election candidate John Finucane. Now MP for north Belfast, Mr Finucane described the latest incident as “open intimidation”.
“Sectarianism must always be challenged. There is no place in society for sectarianism or racism.
“This open intimidation was displayed on (Belfast City Council) playing pitches that belong to us all. Without exception we all must call these acts out and stand strong against this intimidation.”