The PSNI has confirmed they will “increase visibility” at a memorial to 18 soldiers killed in a bomb attack nearly 40 years ago, following vandalism over the weekend.
Wreaths, crosses and written tributes were vandalised on Saturday at Narrow Water, near Warrenpoint in Co Down where a British Army convoy was ambushed by two roadside bombs in August 1979.
Belfast football club Cliftonville FC, whose supporters would mostly be drawn from the nationalist/republican tradition, said it was aware of reports some fans returning from Saturday’s fixture against Warrenpoint Town were responsible.
Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor, who described Saturday’s attack as “deplorable”, said he would like to see the PSNI “keep a close eye on” the memorial for future matches between Cliftonville and Warrenpoint.
Mr Taylor said: “I would encourage Cliftonville to make every effort to ensure that in any future visit to Warrenpoint that no such action is repeated.
“I would certainly think that the police would have a role in the future when Cliftonville are due to visit Warrenpoint, that they would certainly keep a close eye on the site – particularly when fans travel to and come back from the game.”
Asked if the PSNI would consider Mr Taylor’s suggestion, a police spokesperson said: “Following a report of criminal damage to a war memorial at Narrow Water in Warrenpoint on Saturday, September 15, officers will be increasing visibility in the area to prevent further incidents of this nature.”
Mr Taylor said: “That is a very welcome statement from the police. It will give some reassurance to the local community and obviously to the families concerned that a level of protection will be offered going forward.
“It is unfortunate that this has happened, and the responsibility is ultimately on the club to ensure that their fans behave in the manner that’s required, but I would certainly be encouraging police to keep a close eye on the site.”
Cliftonville FC chairman Gerard Lawlor said the club would co-operate fully with the police investigation as he condemned the attack.
“We live in a sad society where anyone would get a kick out of desecrating a memorial,” he said.
There had been no arrests since the attack, police said. The PSNI have appealed for anyone with dashcam footage to come forward.