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Shock as racist and homophobic graffiti sprayed across Bray

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The graffiti on Brian's car

The graffiti on Brian's car

The graffiti on Brian's car

A man who had racist graffiti sprayed on his car has said he is 'beyond shocked' by the actions of those responsible.

Brian Cullen woke up on Saturday morning to discover someone had sprayed 'All Lives Matter' in black paint on his car.

Although Brian is white, he has Middle Eastern neighbours who have young children and his main concern was that they might see the 'disgusting message' daubed on his vehicle.

'My neighbours are shaken up by it, they've lived in Ireland for a while and they said this is the first time they've encountered something like this,' Brian said.

'We live in a community with people from all over the world, and you don't want to see something like this ruin it.'

But far from being cowed by this incident, Brian says it has had the opposite effect.

'This has definitely made me think I should get involved in spreading the message that racism isn't okay. I've always been anti-racist but I wouldn't have been outspoken about it.'

And rather than punish those responsible, he believes education is key to preventing further similar instances.

'There's two elements to this, the vandalism and the message itself. The vandalism is what it is, there are rules around that. 'But in terms of the message I think there should be some form or re-education for those caught doing it. Ask where it is coming from? I can believe people can change, they can learn and change.'

This was just one of several instances of graffiti reported in Bray on Friday evening with as many as ten different areas targeted in the space of 24 hours, the most prominent at Aldi on the Dublin Road and in Killarney Heights.

As well as 'All Lives Matter', some of the other graffiti contained homophobic messages directed at Minister Roderic O'Gorman and 'Antifa Out', a reference to the anti-facism group.

Gardaí are continuing to investigate the matter and Wicklow County Council have cleaned up almost all of the hateful messages.

Green Party Councillor Erika Doyle has urged people in Wicklow to show zero tolerance to hate speech and graffiti and report it when they encounter it.

'This was directly targeted at minority groups and is much more worrying than the usual random graffiti tags we are used to seeing,' said the Councillor.

'The danger is that with repeated outings of these views, they enter the mainstream and young or vulnerable people can be radicalised or indoctrinated. That is why we must call it out and address it when we see it.

'I want these bigots to know that we will not stand for this. The people of Bray and Wicklow are by and large welcoming and supportive to all communities and we will not allow these toxic individuals to spread their fear.'

Sinn Féin Councillor Dermot 'Daisy' O'Brien echoed those sentiments, stating that local communities had their part to play in quelling racist and homophobic sentiments.

'It's not just the role of the Gardai to deal with this, each one of us can increase our understanding of hate, where it comes from, how it grows and how it might present itself in our own lives and in our communities.

'We can chat about it around the kitchen table, in our friends groups, sports clubs, work places, education institutes. We can be part of the transformation from prejudice, discrimination and hate to empathy, understanding and compassion.

'All that is required is a conscious commitment to a just society where human rights are respected, human dignity is protected and human development is facilitated.'

In an effort to bring communities closer together and show people of colour that these instances aren't representative of Bray as a whole, Cllr Doyle said she is planning to organise an anti-hate event in the coming weeks.

'It's in its very early stages, I'm speaking to other activists at the moment with a view to hosting something in late summer, early autumn.

'I want to provide a voice for minority groups, put on a visual display of solidarity and show we are not going to take this and we will speak against it.

'To be a person living here and know this is directed at you, it must be terrifying.'

Bray People