A memorial to murdered Derry man Kieran Doherty has been vandalised twice in the last two weeks, his family have said.
The small memorial cross, at the site on the Braehead Road where his body was discovered, was targeted in a series of attacks over the Easter period around the second anniversary of the fatal shooting.
Mr Doherty was shot dead by the Real IRA in February 2010. The group claimed he was senior member of the organisation and involved in the drug trade, a claim his family have denied.
His uncle, Vincent Coyle, said the vandalism of the memorial has “reopened the pain” of the family.
“This happened during the Easter time and Kieran was murdered during the Easter period. It is a deliberate attempt to harass and intimidate the family. It reopens the scars, hurt, and pain that his murder still causes,” he said.
Mr Coyle said the family decided not to publicise the first act of vandalism and believed it may have been an isolated act. “We thought the first incident, when the cross was dug up, was a simple act of vandalism carried out by someone who didn’t know what they were doing but when it happened again it was clear that this was a deliberate act designed to cause pain to our family.
“This is a simple memorial and, like all memorials, should not be desecrated like this. This is a spot where Kieran’s loved ones can go and remember him,” he said.
Mr Coyle also said he believes dissident republicans were responsible for the vandalism. “They want this to be forgotten. It paints them in a bad light. The fact that this cross is there and people can see it makes people remember what these people did and they don’t like that,” he said.
Mr Coyle also said the memorial cross will be repaired and re-erected.
Before his death, Kieran Doherty had claimed on a number of occasions that MI5 had tried to recruit him as an informer. In the wake of his murder, Lord Carlile, carried out a probe into the alleged involvement of MI5 in the events leading up to Mr Doherty’s death. His report found no involvement. He visited the site on Braehead Road.