Northern Ireland

Ballymena: Racist graffiti on wall 'a hate crime'

Police

Police are treating racist graffiti which was daubed on a wall in Ballymena as a hate crime.

The graffiti was discovered at a pedestrian subway near the centre of the town in Larne Road Link.

It said "Romas go home" and was painted alongside what appeared to be an image of a rude hand gesture.

The police said the hate crime is not reflective of the local community of Ballymena.

In a statement, they said: "At around 12:30 GMT, it was reported that racist graffiti was located in the area.

"Officers have liaised with partner agencies to have the graffiti removed from the area.

"Enquiries are continuing and at this stage, police are treating the incident as a hate crime."

'Safe place for everyone'

He urged people to remember that "everyone who has made their home in Ballymena has the right to be shown respect and tolerance.

"Officers continue to work closely with key stakeholders and partner agencies to make Ballymena a safe place for everyone to live and work."

Tensions in the County Antrim town, which has suffered a number of factory closures in recent years, have been growing in recent weeks.

Many of Ballymena's food processors are still struggling to fill vacancies, and an abundance of some jobs has made the area attractive to people looking for work.

But some of the town's residents have raised concerns about the changing make up of the community.

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