Police investigating graffiti as racist hate crime

Racist graffiti, partially blurred
Offensive graffiti, including that seen in this partially blurred photograph, appeared in Cookstown over the weekend [BBC]

People in Cookstown have described racist graffiti in the town as "shocking" and "disgusting".

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has said it is investigating the matter as a racially motivated hate crime.

Officers appealed for information after offensive messages and swastikas were daubed on several buildings over the weekend.

Offensive language was written on a wall in a car park off the Burn Road and a swatstika was sprayed on a bus stop outside Holy Trinity College.

Shutters painted with swastikas
Swastikas were painted on the shutters of a shop [BBC]

Shutters of a shop were also painted with swatstikas, while a racist message was written in the town centre.

Efforts were under way on Monday afternoon to remove the paint, with residents describing the language as abhorrent and something they would not want their children to see.

Young man
Johnny Ryan said the graffiti was "disgusting" [BBC]

One resident, Johnny Ryan, said he had been taken aback by the appearance of the graffiti and thought it was “shocking” and “disgusting”.

“It’s not fair. There are people who live and work in this town that are adding to our economy locally. They work and live here, they spend money in the shops,” he told BBC News NI.

“I think that [the graffiti] is shocking for anyone to ever see.”

Young woman
Rachel Hatton criticised the racist graffiti [BBC]

Rachel Hatton said the graffiti was wrong.

“They shouldn’t be doing it,” she said.

Those responsible were “hurting other people’s heart and their head – it’s not right”, Ms Hatton said.

PSNI Inspector Ross said: "I want to assure the public that we take all reports of hate crime extremely seriously.

"There is no place in our society for such behaviour."