Darren Guy condemns 'sectarian hate' suffered by Royal Black

An Ulster Unionist councillor has condemned what he described as a 'weekend of sectarian hate' suffered by the Royal Black Preceptory after wreaths laid at the Diamond War Memorial were vandalised.

Alderman Darren Guy said: "On Saturday morning the Royal Black Preceptory conducted a short Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph at which wreaths were placed.

"Sometime after this, towards the end of the weekend the wreaths were subsequently stolen and destroyed in an act which equates to nothing more than naked sectarianism and should be rightly treated as a hate crime towards the Protestant community within the city."

The incident occurred after around 150 members of the Royal Black Institution staged their 'Last Saturday' demonstration in the city.

Wreaths were destroyed at the Cenotaph at the weekend.

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Alderman likened the destruction to the placement of poppy wreaths on nationalist August 15 bonfires last month.

"The PSNI have said they will monitor CCTV within the area but this destruction of poppy wreaths is an ongoing issue and I do not remember one person ever being brought to court over this type of hate crime.

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"We have recently witnessed an upsurge in sectarianism across Northern Ireland, on both sides and I feel more needs to be done by those in our communities, at all levels - including and especially politicians to address the issue and not just sweep it under the carpet for yet another year," he said.

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The Waterside unionist said young people need to be 'educated on what a poppy wreath represents', claiming some of those responsible for the vandalism may learn that 'a late relative gave their lives on battlefields in far off lands'.

"The names of the dead on the Cenotaph are an almost equal split amongst Catholic and Protestants from our city, all died beside each other on the battlefields, they may have been fighting to achieve different outcomes, but they fought as comrades one and all, against a common enemy."

"Everyone has a right to remember their dead, we may not agree with that person's political beliefs, or why they died, but their right should be respected. Until we all realise this then sadly such acts of hate will continue."

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Alderman Guy also condemned the actions of a driver of a vehicle who, he claimed, drove at speed towards the Royal Black Preceptory feeder parade on Saturday morning along Spencer Road.

"If not for the assertive actions of the parade marshals and a PSNI officer who was subsequently injured in attempting to stop the suspected stolen, approaching vehicle, then we could've been dealing with multiple injuries or much worse."