Sectarian graffiti has been scratched into the plaster of a new memorial to the ten victims of the Kingsmills massacre.
It commemorates the Kingsmills killing in which 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead by the IRA as they travelled home from work in 1976.
Sectarian graffiti was scratched into the plaster of the memorial, which is undergoing construction work.
Danny Kennedy MLA (Newry and Armagh) said he was appalled.
Mr Kennedy, of the Ulster Unionist Party, said: “The republican cowards responsible for this desecration have once again shown the sectarianism that still spews from some sections of the community.
“Not content with the Provisional IRA having robbed the Kingsmills families of their loved ones in an act of sectarian savagery, Irish republicans have attempted to heap further pain on them by attempting to intimidate the workers erecting the memorial and then returning later to deface it.”
The gun attack on January 5 1976 was one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
The textile factory workers were travelling in a minibus along the Whitecross to Bessbrook Road in rural south Armagh when their vehicle was ambushed by up to a dozen gunmen.
The only Catholic in the minibus was ordered to leave the area while 11 of his Protestant work colleagues were gunned down.
One man survived, but was shot 18 times.
Last year, an investigation by the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) concluded that the IRA was responsible for the atrocity and that the victims were targeted because of their religion.
A PSNI spokesman said: “Police are appealing for information following an incident of criminal damage to a memorial in the Kingsmill Road area of Bessbrook on Friday 30th November.
“It was reported that sometime during the afternoon of Friday 30th November sectarian graffiti was scratched into the plaster on the walls of the memorial.”
:: On Monday night, 3 December, Newry and Mourne District Council will take a final vote on whether to name a Newry playground after an IRA gunman who was arrested with one of the weapons used in the Kingsmills massacre.
The council controversially named the playground after Raymond McCreesh in 2001. After protracted objection from unionists, a council sub-committee last month decided that keeping the park’s name complies with their legal requirement to “promote...good relations between persons of different religious belief and political opinion”. For more information see Monday’s News Letter.