A RECENTLY completed mural in South Belfast has been damaged in a paintbomb attack for the second time in a number of weeks with police treating the incident as a hate crime.

The first attack on the artwork in Mount Aboo Park in the Finaghy area occurred in mid-November when the mural was still being painted. The mural is one of a series and features an image of an elderly ethnic minority man with a white beard and it's believed that's the reason behind the attack as other new murals in the area have not been similarly targeted.

ATTACKED: The mural on Mount Aboo Park was attacked for the second time in a number of weeks

ATTACKED: The mural on Mount Aboo Park was attacked for the second time in a number of weeks

The latest damage to the mural is virtually identical to the first attack, with white paint having been splattered over the wall. The image was quickly touched up and fixed after the first attack but now further work will have to be done to put right the damage caused by this second act of vandalism.

After the previous attack SDLP Councillor for Balmoral Dónal Lyons said the attack represented a mindless act of vandalism.

Today Councillor Lyons said: “I cannot understand what motivates those behind the constant attacks on this piece of street art that was recently installed in the area. Given that it appears to have been singled out over other murals and has been repeatedly targeted it has been suggested that it is the content of the mural causing these attacks which is deeply depressing.

“Pieces of street art that are springing up across our city bring added vibrancy to many areas and are enjoyed by both the local community and visitors alike. We should be celebrating this instead of destroying this artwork that clearly took a huge amount of time and effort to create.

“I would appeal for those behind these attacks to reflect on their futile actions and show some respect for the local community. Any hateful agenda behind these incidents would be roundly rejected by the people of south Belfast, which benefits greatly from being one of the most diverse places on this island.”

A spokesperson for the PSNI said: "Police received a report of criminal damage which occurred at a mural at the Upper Lisburn Road area of South Belfast sometime between 4pm on Friday 24th November and shortly after 11:40am on Monday 27th November.

"Enquiries are continuing but at this stage, this is being treated as a hate crime and police would appeal to anyone with any information in relation to the incident, to contact them on 101 quoting reference number 708 27/11/23."