Chapels in Omagh and Armagh have been daubed with graffiti attacking Sinn Fein’s abortion policy ahead of the pending southern referendum on the matter.
Police are investigating a report of criminal damage at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh overnight from Sunday to Monday and a further attack on Carrickmore Chapel, Omagh overnight, 24 hours later. The two sites are some 30 miles apart.
“Enquiries are on-going” the PSNI said.
On May 24 southern voters will decide whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the southern constitution, which recognises the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn.
The graffiti in Armagh consists of messages daubed in pink, including “Irish baby killers”, “Save the 8th”, “The New Reformation is Here” along with Biblical verse references.
Another message referred to “Sin Fein” in an apparent reference to the party’s pro-choice policy.
A message sprayed on the church at Carrickmore read in part “Only the DUP speaks for Irish unborn” along with “Begly SF Irish baby killer” in apparent reference to Sinn Fein’s candidate in the forthcoming Westminster by-election in the area, Orfhlaith Begley.
Ms Begly responded on Twitter: “I condemn the sectarian attack on my local chapel in Carrickmore. This is an attack on our local community. It is a sectarian hate crime and those responsible should be brought to book. I would appeal to anyone with any information to bring it forward to PSNI.”
However some people responding on Twitter questioned if it really was a sectarian matter, with a range of apparently nationalist posters challenging Sinn Fein’s pro-choice stance.
Speaking on the Carrickmore graffiti, West Tyrone DUP Westminster candidate Tom Buchanan said: “There is a strength of feeling amongst members of the community about Sinn Fein’s policy on abortion, however that is no cause to destroy property in order to put across a particular message.
“It is totally wrong and inappropriate to smear a place of worship, or any public building with graffiti to make any sort of political point. I totally condemn the graffiti and distance myself from the remarks made. Those involved should be ashamed and anyone with any knowledge of it should bring that forward to the PSNI.”
The “only way” to make such a point to Sinn Fein, he claimed, is in the West Tyrone by election on May 3.