27/02/2007

Republican graves damaged in attack

A number of graves in a west Belfast cemetery have been vandalised in an overnight attack.

Nearly 40 graves were desecrated on the republican plot at Milltown Cemetery.

Three IRA members killed by the SAS in Gibraltar, and hunger striker Kieran Doherty’s headstones were covered in yellow paint in the incident.

Doherty died on August 2, 1981, after 66 days of hunger strike in the Maze Prison.

He was the first of ten men to die after protesting over political status for republican prisoners.

The incident is the latest attack on republican graves in the last six years, including that of hunger striker Bobby Sands, in 2004. Bobby Sands’ grave was left undamaged on this occasion.

Liam Shannon, spokesman for the National Graves Association, described the attack as “mindless vandalism”.

“Whoever is behind this is totally wrong and should be condemned,” he said.

Paint was also poured over the 1916 Irish Proclamation of Independence and it is believed it will need special treatment to return it to its original state.

(JM/SP)

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