‘I just can’t fathom how anyone could do this in the first instance and then get up the next day and not be wreaked by guilt and rremorse – Stevie Corr
GRIEVING ffamilies have been left “inconsolable” after vandals desecrated graves at a mixed West Belfast cemetery. Headstones and secured statues were smashed during the attack at City Cemetery on the Falls Road where up to 30 graves – including some belonging to children and some with the Celtic football crest – were targeted.
The PSNI on Thursday night said officers would be stepping up patrols in the area around the cemetery. The damage, across a number of sections in the council-operated cemetery, was discovered on Thursday morning by park staff. While some sites had headstones smashed and sacred statues broken, other mementos around the graves had also been vandalised. At one a birthday card left for a deceased loved one had been heartlessly ripped up. Falls Sinn Fein councillor Stevie Corr, who sits on Belfast City Council‘s Parks & Leisure committee, said he was “disgusted” by what had happened. Mr Corr said that while visiting the cemetery on Thursday he challeneged a group of drinkers in the graveyard telling them they “needed to leave”. “I am totally disgusted by what’s happened and I just can’t fathom how anyone could do this in the first instance and then be wreaked by guilt and remorse by what they’ve done,” he said.
Mr Corr said damage to the graves of children had been the “most distressing”. He said he came across a mother and daughter on Thursday clearing up a family plot which had been targeted. Mr Corr said the pair were “inconsolable by what happened”. “We need to reinforce that this is a cemetery. This is a sacred place that aanti social elements should not be in,” he said. Mr Corr said he would be speaking to the council about additional security.
The latest vandalism comes on the back of a number of other incidents of antisocial behaviour at the cemetery site including a number of assaults. In November a 13-year-old boy was beaten unconscious by a gang armed with an iron bar as he walked through the cemetery because he had no mobile phone for them to steal. In the same month, a 15-year-old boy was treated for a head injury after being attacked near the entrance to the cemetery by five men armed with iron bars. The latest vandalism at the site is believed to have taken place between Tuesday and Wednesday last week. Police said last Thursday that they had been “liaising with Belfast City Council in relation to aantisocial behaviour issues in the area around the cemetery, in an effort to prevent anyone gaining access after hours”. They also appealed for members of the community “with a view of the cemetery from their homes” to contact the PSNI “if they notice anything untoward, so police can respond quickly”. Police on Thursday night appealed for anyone who had found a loved one’s grave damaged to contact them.
- Beneath contempt… vandals wreck graves at Belfast City Cemetery (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Families ‘outraged’ after Belfast City Cemetery grave sites vandalised (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Police patrol cemetery after 20 graves damaged (newsletter.co.uk)
- Dozens of Headstones Desecrated at 2 Wausau Cemeteries (wsaw.com)
- Graveyard Ghouls Desecrate Plots at Belfast City Cemetery (belfastdaily.co.uk)