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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 September, 2004, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Graffiti mocked teenager's death
Graffiti
Graffiti daubed on the road has been painted over by nationalists

Graffiti has been daubed on a wall in north Belfast mocking the controversial death of a Protestant boy three years ago.

The words, on a wall at the Shore Road, were painted out by residents of the nationalist Bawnmore estate on Saturday morning.

They said that they found it offensive.

Thomas McDonald, 16, was struck by a car as he rode his bicycle along Whitewell Road in September 2001.

The Protestant youth was knocked from his bike by a Catholic woman's car when she chased him along a footpath after he had thrown a brick at her windscreen.

The County Antrim mother-of-six was sentenced to two years in prison for Mr McDonald's manslaughter after she admitted killing him by dangerous driving but denied murdering him.

We tried to cover it over as best we could. This is the young lad's anniversary and it's not a nice thing to be on the wall
Bawnmore resident
The death followed rioting between rival loyalist and nationalist crowds at the Whitewell interface.

The woman's defence counsel had argued that although it had been a rash and dangerous act, it had been carried out in the heat of the moment.

Graffiti 'wrong'

One of those who objected to the graffiti which was discovered on Saturday was a man whose memorial to his stepson was destroyed during the week.

He blamed loyalists for that attack but said both incidents were wrong.

"I got a phone call from the main residents group as there was a lot of writing on the wall," he said.

"We tried to cover it over as best we could. This is the young lad's anniversary and it's not a nice thing to be on the wall."

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said the graffiti was offensive.

"There's loved ones who have lost children on all sides here. The graffiti should be removed immediately and is being removed immediately."

Tommy Kirkham from the Ulster Political Research Group, the political wing of the Ulster Defence Association, said graffiti had been appearing for months in reference to Mr McDonald's death.

"It is taken down very very quickly but the fact is no-one is trying to stop it," he said.

The Whitewelll road was cordoned off on Saturday afternoon while a band parade was held in memory of Thomas McDonald.

There was a heavy police presence in the area.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI's Malachy McCourt reports:
"Nationalist residents said the graffiti was offensive"



SEE ALSO:
Boy's memorial vandalised
14 Dec 03  |  Northern Ireland
Video captures teenager's death
09 Dec 02  |  Northern Ireland



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