A memorial remembering those who fought in both world wars has been destroyed in Coleraine for the second time in the space of a year.
The memorial stone in the grounds of Killowen Orange Hall was broken in pieces during the attack on Friday night. Poppy wreaths were also destroyed in the incident.
Speaking on Saturday morning, Coleraine District Master, George Duddy said on he was ‘disgusted’ by the actions of those responsible. He added that those who had carried out the attack had done ‘little to help community relations in the area’.
The memorial remembers the brethren of the Coleraine area who fought in both World Wars. It was vandalised last May but Lodge members had the garden rededicated last year by Edward Stevenson, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, before the Battle of the Somme commemorations, which are hosted by the Killowen Purple Heroes lodge.
Worshipful Master of the Lodge, George Gaston told The Times that Lodge members were already making arrangements to have the memorial reinstated. He added that lodge members were ‘outraged’ by the incident.
A spokesman for the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said this latest attack ‘demonstrates that a section of Northern Ireland’s population lacks the tolerance and respect required for a shared future’.
The spokesman said: “The lodge members quite rightly see this as an attack on their community at Killowen and on the memory of those who fought and died in service, not least those members of the lodge who served in the First World War. While many people talk about a shared future, this sort of attack reminds us that there are people in our society who have a long journey to make. They are consumed with hate. Attacking the memory of those who gave their life in conflict is one of the lowest actions that anyone can take.
MLA for East Londonderry Adrian McQuillan also condemned the incident and called for increased police patrols in and around the area. He said: I am sickened and appalled by this act of sectarian vandalism and I am pleased that the PSNI are treating it as a hate crime – because that is what it is.”
PUP Chairman Russell Watton described the incident as ‘another cowardly attack by so-called Republicans in the area’.
MLA George Robinson added: I was deeply saddened to learn that once again the memorial in Killowen, to those who gave their all for their country, has been vandalised.
Alliance councillor Yvonne Boyle also spoke out about the actions of those responsible saying: “Respect and dialogue is needed, not destructive action.”