Political and community representatives have condemned those responsible for daubing racist graffiti on a sign on a road into Ballyclare.
The graffiti which reads “Whites only, NSM 88” was daubed on the ‘Welcome to Ballyclare’ sign on the Hillhead Road. A swastika was also drawn on the sign, which is located on one of the main arterial routes into the town.
It’s understood that “NSM 88” is a reference to the National Socialist Movement, with the numbers apparently referring to the eighth letter of the alphabet, H H, which is thought to be code for ‘Heil Hitler’.
The word “arsonists” was also scrawled across the sign.
A new housing development is being constructed only yards away from where the sign is located.
The President of Ballyclare Chamber of Trade, David Reade, has voiced his disappointment in relation to the incident. Speaking to the Times he said: “The Chamber of Trade are extremely disappointed that there are people in Ballyclare who use graffiti like this to deter visitors from Ballyclare at a time when we are doing all we can to attract them.
“These opinions do not represent the people of the town and graffiti like this is in itself a cowardly act by someone who probably dare not air these views in public.”
The incident has also been condemned by Cllr David Arthurs. The UUP representative said: “There is no place for this in Ballyclare. It is not the image that we are trying to portray for the town. “With the announcement that more housing is to be built in the area, Ballyclare is only going to get bigger and we want to attract more people to the region and make them feel welcome.
“When a minority decide to do things like this, it is not the image that Ballyclare deserves. It has always been a welcoming town and incidents like this are wrong.”
Commenting on the issue, South Antrim Assembly election hopeful, David McMaster voiced his disgust over the incident. The independent candidate from Ballyclare said: “I am disgusted by this. It goes without saying that this does not represent the views of people in Ballyclare.
“I believe that the people behind it are doing it for attention. Whether they know what Nazism stands for or not is another question.
“Perhaps if they spent their time studying history rather than defacing signs, they’d realise how utterly stupid and racist their actions are.”
The graffiti, which was expected to be removed by council workers on Tuesday afternoon, was also condemned by Cllr Tim Girvan. The DUP representative said: “It is sad to see this sort of element coming into Ballyclare. I hope it doesn’t deter people from settling in the town and calling it home. I hope that the individuals who carried out this vandalism will be found.
“Ballyclare has a good reputation and I wouldn’t like to see it being compromised. It’s disturbing to see a house on the road also had a window smashed and graffiti saying ‘Get out’ painted on it last week. Anyone with information should contact the police.”
A police spokesman confirmed that officers are investigating a report of criminal damage at a house on the Hillhead Road on Wednesday, April 20. The incident occurred sometime between 9.25am and 11pm.
Police are appealing for anyone with information to contact them in Newtownabbey on the non-emergency number 101. Information can also be passed anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.