VANDALS have damaged a number of headstones in a cemetery in Belfast.
The incident happened in a section of the City Cemetery on the Falls Road where a number of graves of members of the armed services who died in World War I and World War II are situated.
A total of fourteen headstones were targeted by the vandals. One of the memorials was badly damaged (see photo).
A war memorial cross adjacent to the graves had graffiti daubed on it, but this has already been removed following a cleaning operation.
It is unclear when the damage was carried out. Officials only became aware on Tuesday (April 22) that the graves had been desecrated, but it’s thought the vandals may have struck at any time from Tuesday (April 15) onwards.
The damage has been widely condemned.
Historian Tom Hartley, who was the author of a book about the City Cemetery, said people had been left outraged by the vandalism.
He said: Communities living around the cemetery in the Whiterock, St. James, the Rock Streets and Turf Lodge have a great respect for the dead and get annoyed when any grave is desecrated. So they don’t want to see this and are as hurt by any grave being damaged as if it were that of their own relative.”
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which cares for the headstones, described the attack as “deeply distressing”.
The Commission said it would be working closely with Belfast City Council to ensure the cemetery was restored “to a fitting standard”.
Police hunting those responsible have appealed to the public for information.
The PSNI want to hear from anyone who may have noticed any suspicious activity in the cemetery. Officers based at Woodbourne PSNI station are carrying out the investigation. They can be contacted by telephoning 101 or information can be passed on anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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