26 March 2005


IRA monument in Northern town pulled down by vandals

By Gary Kelly

AN IRA monument in the centre of a Co Down town has been damaged by vandals.

The Celtic cross in Main Street in Castlewellan was pulled down from its base by vandals in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Three flag poles surrounding it were also uprooted with one tossed into the grounds of St Malachy’s Chapel.

The attack was condemned by Sinn Féin MLA for the area Catriona Ruane who said it was linked to political opposition to a republican Easter parade in nearby Newcastle.

The parade was called off by Sinn Féin earlier this week. Ms Ruane described it as a mindless act of vandalism. “Actions such as this will make the job of improving community relations much more difficult.

“I have no doubt that those who carried out this attack were determined to try and escalate tensions in the area.

“It is no co-incidence that this attack on a republican monument comes at a time when the SDLP and DUP are actively opposing the Sunday Easter parade in Newcastle.

“There are elements in South Down who are trying to stop nationalists and republicans from being able to celebrate the 1916 Easter uprising. These are the same people who cannot accept the ever increasing support for republicans and Sinn Féin in this area.

“I have a simple message for these people. We will rebuild the Castlewellan monument to the people who have died fighting for Irish freedom and we will continue to build the momentum for Irish re-unification,” she added.

SDLP councillor for Down District Eamonn O’Neill also condemned the vandalism.

“It is clearly an attempt to cause confrontation with the Provisional Republican movement at a time when we want conciliation,” Mr O’Neill said.

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