Red white and blue graffiti on a major roundabout on Limavady’s Seacoast Road will not be removed by the Department for Infrastructure, despite growing public outrage over the issue.
Those responsible for the vandalism have been condemned by local politicians. The roundabout was also targeted by vandals last year.
A spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure said yesterday: “The painting of this roundabout is an offence under Article 87(1) of the Roads (NI) Order 1993. However, while we strongly condemn this illegal action, DFI Roads would normally only remove paint in situations that are considered to be a road safety problem, e.g. painting on the face of road signs, or where the graffiti contains offensive language or messages.
“Experience has shown that it is often counter-productive to intervene unless there is local support for this action. Without such support, repainting generally occurs very quickly and is often more extensive and offensive than the original. The Department must also take into account the safety of those who are asked to undertake the removal and the associated risk of escalating the problem,” the spokesperson added.
Sinn Fein has hit out at the painting of the roundabout which they have described as “an attempt at sectarian intimidation”.
Local Sinn Fein Councillor Brenda Chivers said she had been in touch with the PSNI and the Department over the incident and was disappointed that no action would be taken to remove the graffiti.
Colr. Chivers said: “It’s unfortunate that this paint won’t be removed because it’s like letting these people get away with it. I’ve been inundated with phone calls from the whole community over this issue. Everybody here is outraged and some people feel so strongly about it that they are almost willing to go out and paint it themselves.
“The people who carried out this vandalism are known to police and they are known to people in the community.”
Colr. Chivers went on to say that she was would engage with those involved in the vandalism to try and prevent future incidents. “We are willing to sit down to speak to these people and discuss why they feel they have to do this,” she added.
A PSNI spokesperson confirmed that police were investigating a report of criminal damage at the roundabout.
Inspector Colin Shaw said: “Police received two reports on Saturday March 31, at around 4:50am and 9:50am, that paint had appeared on the roundabout.
“I would appeal to anyone who was in the area between 4am and 4:30am and noticed any suspicious activity or anyone who has information they believe may be useful to our investigation to contact police in Limavady on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 210 of 31/03/18. Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”