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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 March, 2004, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Vandals target victims' memorial
Wreaths to the two men were also desecrated in the attack
Wreaths to the two men were also desecrated in the attack
A memorial to two men murdered by the IRA on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast in 1970 has been vandalised.

Paint was poured onto it on Monday night and local people said footprints led in the direction of the mainly nationalist Short Strand area.

Community representatives said it was a deliberate provocation and called for local people not to retaliate.

The memorial was to James McCurrie and Robert Neill who were shot dead during disturbances close to St Matthew's Church.

Mr McCurrie's wife has since moved away from the area, but visits the memorial several times a week.

Wreaths to the two men were also desecrated in the attack.

'Heartbreak'

Ulster Unionist assembly member Sir Reg Empey said: "Those who carried out this insensitive attack daubed the memorial with green paint and destroyed floral tributes to those who were murdered by the IRA on 27 June 1970.

"It is obvious where the culprits came from to carry out this attack as they left a trail of green footprints all the way back into Short Strand."

Those who are behind this attack should realise it is highly insensitive and wrong
Joe O'Donnell
Sinn Fein

His fellow UUP assembly member Michael Copeland said it was "a despicable act of provocation".

"To see the heartbreak this desecration has caused to widows and other relatives of those murdered is distressing," he said.

Sinn Fein councillor Joe O'Donnell said: "If this memorial was attacked it should be condemned, no matter who was responsible.

"Fortunately we have procedures in place with the interface group and community workers in the area who are currently trying to determine who was responsible.

"If it materialises that people from the Short Strand were responsible, I know the people living here would be very disappointed.

"Those who are behind this attack should realise it is highly insensitive and wrong."




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI's Will Leitch:
"Sinn Fein councillor Joe O'Donnell condemned the attack"



SEE ALSO:
Nursery targeted by vandals
08 May 01  |  Northern Ireland
Schools count cost of vandals
24 Apr 01  |  Northern Ireland


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