KILREA MLA, John Dallat, has hit out at “sectarian” vandals who attacked the Articlave home of a founding member of the SDLP, on the evening of his funeral.
Robert Tosh of Mussenden Gardens, a grassroots party activist for nearly four decades, passed away last week and was buried in the local family plot on Tuesday - the same day thugs chose to wreck his cherished ornate garden.
Edging bricks were ripped up and thrown around the garden, handcrafted ornaments trampled underfoot and even a religious grotto was desecrated.
The deceased, who joined the SDLP almost 40 years ago, served the party at grassroots level through some of the most difficult years of the Troubles. He lived in an area which is predominantly loyalist but was highly respected by his local community.
The damage inflicted on the Tosh home took place after a large family funeral to St. Mary’s Church, Dunboe, which was attended by a number of senior members of the SDLP including new party leader Alastair McDonnell and East Derry Assembly member John Dallat.
Describing Mr Tosh as a deeply religious man who loved his local community, Mr Dallat said he was disgusted at the attack on the garden which had been a source of great personal pride to the dead man.
“This was a disgraceful and cowardly attack on the family home of Robert Tosh who was a gentleman that was highly respected by everyone. His politics were out in the open despite the fact he lived in an area which has seen its share of sectarianism,” he told The Times.
“I have spoken to the police who have made one arrest.”
“Robert was a craftsman who even designed and made the Celtic Cross which he erected on the family plot. He was always making things and most of his work could be seen in his garden.
“He was also a religious person, who had great devotion to Our Lady. Her statue was among the items wrenched from their foundation.
“This incident has caused untold upset to his family and indeed the rest of us who couldn’t believe anyone would be so cruel as to do this evil deed,” concluded the politician.