A sectarian hate crime on a newly opened Men’s Shed in Ballykelly has caused “upset and anxiety”.
That’s according to Betty McNerlin who is responsible for the building and grounds of the facility located within Lough View estate in Ballykelly.
Sectarian graffiti was sprayed on the walls, and police are treating the incident as a sectarian hate crime.
“It’s a brand new Shed, only open officially three weeks ago,” said Ms McNerlin. “It’s upset the men because this is a place of comfort for them, a place of security and they come into this. No one here takes a bit of notice about religion.”
Ms McNerlin suspects the vandals struck sometime on Saturday, or Sunday, as there were people on the premises prior to that.
“Whoever did it had to make a bit of effort as they had to climb over the fence. Thankfully, the only damage is the paint,” said Ms McNerlin.
Currently, members are putting their skills to use by building ‘buddy benches’ for local schools. Ms McNerlin said the attack would not deter the men from continuing with their work.
“This is a lovely estate and it’s almost like doing something in your own back yard. To be faced with this, well it’s caused anxiety and upset.”
Ms McNerlin had this message for the culprits.
“Think about society and how you fit into society. Think about the day when you’ll be older, and how you would feel if this happened to you,” said Ms McNerlin.
Chairman of Ballykelly Men’s Shed, Barry Jackson, had this challenge for the vandals.
“Come and see what we do, and do something constructive instead of vandalising,” he said. “This is a place of refuge and all the volunteers work hard. It’s disheartening what happened.”
Police have appealed for information about the incident, and urge anyone with information to call them.
A PSNI spokesperson said police are appealing for information about the incident of criminal damage which occurred sometime between 5pm on Friday, October 14th and 9am on October 17th when sectarian graffiti was sprayed on the premises.
Anyone with information about the incident should contact police on 101, quoting reference number 360 with the date 17/10/16.