13/05/2004

Joey Dunlop memorial destroyed by vandals

Local politicians have roundly condemned an attack on a memorial garden in Ballymoney dedicated to the late Joey Dunlop.

The memorial garden, which housed a granite plaque, was destroyed by vandals sometime between midnight on Wednesday and 8am on Thursday.

Police believe a sledge hammer was used to smash the plaque into several pieces.

North Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA Rev. Robert Coulter described those behind the attack as "lowlife".

"Anyone who would stoop so low to deface a tribute to one of the greatest ever sportmen Ulster has produced is a sad person with no morals," he said. "Unlike those who carried out this disgusting attack, Joey Dunlop was a man of the people, full of compassion for those less fortunate than himself and an immense yet unassuming figure in the world of motorcycling."

North Antrim SDLP assembly member Sean Farren said: "Joey Dunlop's memory is revered by people from all traditions and backgrounds in Ballymoney and the surrounding area.

"This mindless vandalism is simply disgraceful and diminishes us all."

East Londonderry MLA David McClarty added: "This was an insensitive action at a memorial which has been visited by some many thousands of people since it was established following Joey's untimely death in 2000.

"People who carry out such attacks should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves in the cold light of day. By their actions they achieve nothing but the utter distain of the community."

Five-times world champion Joey Dunlop died in a racing accident in Estonia in 2000.

(MB)

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