'Increasingly alarming' - Five properties daubed with racist graffiti overnight in Antrim area

Racist graffiti at the new development on Fountain Hill in Antrim
-Credit: (Image: Belfast Live)

Police are investigating five separate reports of racist graffiti daubed on properties in the Co Antrim area.

The reports were made to police between Sunday, July 7, and Monday, July 8, of racist graffiti daubed on the side walls of properties in the Parkhall Road area, Fountainhill area, Craigmore Park area, Market Street area and Castle Mall area of Antrim.

Police said the incidents are being investigated as racially motivated hate crimes and they have appealed to anyone with information to get in touch.

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MP for the area, Robin Swann, has condemned the recent attacks which consisted of Combat 18 and swastika graffiti. He has requested a meeting with police to discuss the issue.

Mr Swann said: "Overnight, combat 18 and swastika graffiti were daubed on properties in Antrim. The police have since confirmed that there have been five separate reports of graffiti on houses across Antrim.

"Those taking part in these acts want to cause fear or promote hatred and these racist attacks will not be tolerated in the Antrim community. Any house subject to racist graffiti in Northern Ireland is an insult to democracy.

“I have requested a meeting with the PSNI to discuss the actual facts behind the attacks. The PSNI remain on the ground in the community and are working towards finding those responsible for these attacks."

Racist graffiti in the Craigmore Park area of Antrim
Racist graffiti in the Craigmore Park area of Antrim -Credit:Belfast Live

Declan Kearney MLA said he has become "increasingly alarmed" by "racist and sectarian intimidation" in Antrim in recent weeks. He said it began with the erection of "locals only" posters in the Ballycraigy estate, followed by "the targeting of ethnic minority families culminating in a deliberate attempt to prevent families from moving into a neighbouring new social housing development."

Mr Kearney added: "A small gang of paramilitary criminals is trying to control and coerce the greater Ballycraigy neighbourhood. They are attempting to increase fear and destroy the good community and multi-cultural relations which are now enjoyed in Antrim. We must collectively ensure they do not succeed.

“The current situation is absolutely unacceptable. Such destabilising, hate filled activity must not go unchallenged. This is Antrim in 2024, not Alabama in 1964. There is no place for racism, sectarianism, or paramilitary influence."

Mr Kearney said police have assured a proactive policing approach is in place, and he has called for community engagement and co-operation with the investigation.

Racist graffiti at Castle Mall Shopping Centre in Antrim
Racist graffiti at Castle Mall Shopping Centre in Antrim -Credit:Belfast Live

He added: "Last Friday I raised my deepening concerns directly with the senior PSNI command and asked for an assessment of the ongoing situation. I was assured that a proactive policing approach is in place, including deployment of additional resources to provide for an increased police presence in the areas concerned.

“While I welcome the commitments provided by the PSNI to deliver upscaled police activity, this must urgently translate into robust operations to stop the escalating campaign of sectarian and racist intimidation. That must extend to putting those responsible before the courts.

“In this period, I would appeal to our local community to fully engage and cooperate with the police and provide the information which can ensure that those responsible are arrested and prosecuted.”

Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International, Patrick Corrigan, has called for police and politicians to respond more effectively. He said: "This sustained campaign of racist intimidation across Antrim is appalling.

"It seems clear that in Antrim, as in other places we have seen gangs of masked men carry out racist attacks on homes and community buildings, that there is illegal paramilitary involvement.

"It is outrageous that, in 2024, the threat of violence from armed and dangerous groups is determining who can live where in Northern Ireland, rather than the lawful authorities. The neo-Nazi graffiti throughout the town overnight is a further attempt to frighten and intimidate ordinary people.

"For this to end, we must see resolute police action and courageous political leadership, both to reassure the victims of these horrendous crimes, but also to hold to account those responsible. To defeat racism and sectarianism, we need both words and action.”

Police have said officers will work with local partners to have the graffiti removed, and a noticeable policing presence will continue this week in the surrounding area. A spokesperson added: "If you have any concerns or information that may assist our enquiries, please contact officers on 101, or you can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

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