Page last updated at 14:08 GMT, Saturday, 22 November 2008

Memorial to IRA victims attacked

Vandalised memorial
The memorial to two men killed by the IRA has been attacked in the past

A memorial to two Protestant men killed by the IRA in east Belfast in 1970 has been attacked by vandals.

Paint and sectarian graffiti were daubed over the memorial on the lower Newtownards Road at about 0300 GMT on Saturday.

Youths were seen running away after the incident. One of them was chased by police who retrieved a number of items.

The widow of one of the men said it was the third time the memorial had been attacked.

"They can never wipe out the truth, no matter what they do," said Kathleen McCurrie, whose husband James was shot dead during disturbances close to St Matthew's Church.

Another man, Robert Neill, was also killed.

"No matter what paint they use, they'll never wipe out the heart-ache," said Mrs McCurrie.

There were angry scenes when the McCurrie family challenged local Sinn Féin representatives who came to the scene of the attack to condemn it.

Party representative Niall Ó Donnghaile said the attack was "totally reprehensible".

"It is essential that the work which is ongoing to try and resolve the interface issues in this area continues and that we all work to try and ensure that such attacks are not repeated," said Mr Ó Donnghaile.

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said he was "disgusted" at the attack, "by republican elements from the Short Strand".

"It is deliberately provocative and totally unjustified behaviour designed to damage community relations," said Sir Reg.

The police have appealed for calm in the area.

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