Locals outraged as statue of Virgin Mary desecrated with offensive word
A religious statue in Co Tyrone was desecrated at the weekend after vandals painted an offensive word over it.
The figure of the Blessed Virgin, located at Crockanboy Hill, is sited close to a Mass Rock near Greencastle in Co Tyrone.
Attackers daubed the word 'w****e' on the statue in red paint.
Local SDLP councillor Rosemarie Shields said she was shocked by the act of desecration.
"This is very rural, quiet area. There's never been any kind of sectarian tension here, nothing like that," she said last night.
"Nothing like this has ever happened here before, so far as I am aware.
"I can't understand why anyone would do something like this to the statue.
"I can't understand why the statue would bother anyone."
One man who witnessed the damage, wrote on Facebook: "It is very disturbing and mental health experts would put this in the category of a psychosis - the person who did this needs immediate and critical psychiatric attention."
The area has become embroiled in controversy following plans by mining company Dalradian Gold to develop a gold mine there.
The company already employs 85 people on the project, and has spent £62m in exploratory work.
According to Dalradian, surveys have shown more than four million ounces of gold in the local ground which could produce 120,000 ounces of gold each year
However, there has been substantial local opposition to the gold miners' plans.
Residents in the area have expressed their concerns about the use of cyanide as part of the mining process. And last year the company was embroiled in a row with the PSNI over a £400,000 bill for the cost of transporting explosives to the site.
Work to date has included more than 130,000 metres of drilling, metallurgical testing, underground development and exploration and permitting.
Earlier this year a Rosary Crusade to the holy site at Crockanboy was organised by the local Ancient Order of Hibernians group. There is no suggestion that supporters or opponents of the mine were behind the vandalism.