Politicians unite to condemn ‘racist’ sign in Moygashel

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Politicians unite to condemn ‘racist’ sign in Moygashel thumbnailThe Moygashel sign. SC0225

POLICE are treating the erection of a sign which appeared in the Moygashel area warning landlords that "leasing property to foreign nationals will not be tolerated" as a hate crime.
The racist sign was put up in the early hours of December 31, just ahead of the dropping of UK border restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian migrants and the incident has been roundly condemned by Dungannon Councillors and MLAs.
It is understood that the sign appeared at the entrance to Hillcrest Park on the Jacksonville Road and was removed by Police the same day.
The PSNI have appealed for anyone who witnessed it being erected to contact them in Dungannon.
Former DUP Councillor, Lord Morrow, who represented the Moygashel ward, said that people in the area were angry that the sign had been erected. He said: "I don't think these signs are being put up in the name of the people of Moygashel.
“Moygashel is like any other community with hardworking people who want to get on with their day's work, raise their families and get on with their lives. That's the Moygashel that I know and represented for nearly 40 years."
Dungannon Sinn Fein Mayor Cllr Sean McGuigan also condemned the erection of the sign: "Ten per cent of the population of Dungannon is a migrant population living and working in the area and there is concern about what has happened. Everybody is entitled to live and work in this area."
Dungannon DUP Cllr Kim Ashton stated the sign was an attempt to intimidate people in the area: "It is not the view of the wider community. There is an individual or individuals looking to start tension in the area. It's certainly aimed at intimidating local people and landlords in the area trying to lease property and something we don't want to see happening in our district.
“We don't want to see anyone intimidated because of the background they come from," concluded Cllr Ashton.
Dungannon SF Cllr Deirdre Varsani told the Courier: "Tyrone natives have journeyed to a multiplicity of other lands to find work and a new life and still do so to this day; many, especially in earlier times, encountered obstacles and hardships. We should surely therefore be able to go that extra mile to welcome new communities who come to us in search of the same opportunities.
“In common with other local representatives and groups, we would urge that any person experiencing issues of unfair practices to come forward to help shed a light on unacceptable treatment."
Sinn Fein MLA Bronwyn McGahan has claimed that the sign was the responsibility of people with extreme right-wing views.
She said: "There is an element of fascism and sectarianism that is going on in that area and I would be calling on all the political parties to come out and condemn it outright," Said Ms McGahan.
“It is not the first incident that has arisen in that Moygashel area and the police would be aware of that, so it doesn't come as any surprise to me.
“We do, especially in and around Dungannon, have a very large foreign national population because of the meat industry," she added.
“But I believe those people who come to Ireland have a very positive contribution to make to the economy and they should not be discriminated against."
Migrant workers living in the Moygashel area have been targeted on numerous occasions over the past number of years.
The series of incidents dating back more than seven years include paint bomb attacks and windows smashed by bricks bearing threatening messages.
In November 2009 a note was attached to the windscreen of a car belonging to a landlord who was leasing property to a Lithuanian family. In a similar manner to the sign which appeared this week, it warned that foreign nationals would not be tolerated in Moygashel.
At least one family left the area following a spike in incidents in 2009.
Police are investigating this incident as a hate crime and would ask anyone who witnessed the sign being erected or anyone with any information to contact them at Dungannon Police Station on 0845 600 8000. Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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