A Derry woman has spoken of her devastation after a sentimental ornament from her husband’s grave was destroyed on Sunday night.
Sharon Kelly was speaking after a number of graves in Derry’s city cemetery, including her husband Shaun’s, were damaged in an act that has been condemned locally as “shameless vandalism.”
Teddies on children’s graves were ripped apart, ornaments were smashed and a cross was knocked over at a number of graves in the new part of Derry city cemetery. Police are investigating and have appealed for witnesses to come forward.
“My husband Shaun was a biker,” said Sharon Kelly. “My cousin had put an ornament of a bike on the grave.
“When I heard about the damage I had to get up to the cemetery to check the grave. The ornament was missing. When we found it the handlebars had been broken off and the light was gone.
“I am so angry, I just don’t understand how anyone could do this. It just makes you sick to your stomach.
“Why would anyone do this. This is where I go to remember Shaun and get some peace. We are still coming to terms with losing him, and for this to happen just makes me sick.”
Sinn Fein candidate for the upcoming election Maeve McLaughlin said she was shocked when she visited the cemetery to find ornaments smashed and teddies that were placed on a child’s grave ripped apart.
“It is shocking that there could be so little respect,” she said. “This is a place were people are grieving, and dealing with their loss.
“I spoke to council workers on the site who said that they had never seen anything like this.
“The people who caused this damage need to realise that it is not only physical damage they are causing but also deep hurt to the families of the deceased.
“They also need to realise that they will someday have close family members interned in the cemetery and think of how they would feel if they arrived to find the grave of a loved one desecrated.
“I would appeal to parents to ensure that their children are not involved in this activity and for anyone who see any suspicious activity around the cemetery to report it immediately.”
SDLP Derry Councillor Brian Tierney has condemned the incident as “senseless” and “disgusting.”
Chair of the Environment and Regeneration Committee on Derry and Strabane District Council, Mr Tierney said:
“I was absolutely appalled to see the scenes of reckless vandalism.
“This is a place where people come to pay solemn and personal respect to loved ones in peace. To see it in this state must have been deeply upsetting for those coming to visit family memorials.
“How would those behind this wanton destruction feel if it was their mother or their grandmother coming to a graveside this morning to find their tributes to friends and family ruined?
“I’ll be working with council officers to ensure that these sites are protected from this callous vandalism.”
PSNI Inspector Alison Ferguson is appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with any information that can assist with the investigation to contact Police in Strand Road on 101.
Information can also be passed anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.