Statement by TUV spokesperson Keith Ratcliffe:
“I was disgusted this morning to find that, once again, our Unionist cultural identity is under attack in South Armagh. Overnight, sectarian thugs took it upon themselves to spray paint derogatory and sectarian things over Crosskeys Orange Hall; including ‘IRA’ and ‘Up the Ra’.
“Few people are more acquainted with the brutal reality of IRA murder and mayhem than the Brethren of Crosskeys LOL 88 and Keady District. It was in this area that the IRA preyed on innocent Protestants over the course of their 30 year killing spree and there are many graves in the locality which testify to the barbarity of the IRA.
“With this in mind, we must ask- why do people take delight in seeking out Unionist places and symbols to vandalise them with reminders of immense hurt for this isolated border community? It is a disgrace.
“It is part of a wider concerted campaign of intimidation in South Armagh.
“With Sinn Fein routinely glorifying the IRA, it comes as no surprise that Republicans would feel emboldened to spray paint ‘Up the Ra’ on an Orange Hall. This is a systematic problem in our society, which is encouraged by politicians who have got to where they are on the back of sectarian murder.
“When put in the context of the Sinn Fein leader justifying the IRA campaign as a stand “against British imperialism” and fight for “freedom” on UTV just hours ago such conduct is hardly surprising. The blame for such attacks is not just with those who carried them out but with the likes of Mary Lou McDonald who seeks to classify those attacked by the IRA as alien outsiders. The reality is that the Unionist community of south Armagh are not agents of some foreign power but have lived there for many generations and will not be intimidated out by thugs.
“Republicans need to be called out much more clearly and unambiguously on this language which justifies attacks on isolated, rural communities.
“Are Unionists just expected to shut up and put up with this ongoing campaign of intimidation?
“We will continue to stand with the isolated Unionist community in South Armagh and we admire and commend their courage and determination. It is up to the police to clamp down on such behaviour.”