THOSE behind racist graffiti that has appeared overnight in West Belfast have been condemned for trying to "create fear and intimidation".

Local MP Paul Maskey was speaking after a sinister 'Irish Lives Matter' slogan appeared near the Kennedy Centre facing the Felons. Signage was also erected at Tildarg Avenue in the loyalist Suffolk area.

The graffiti is being associated with the far-right who were behind an anti-immigration riot in Dublin last week which saw shops looted and vehicles set ablaze after the stabbing of three children outside Gaelscoil Coláiste Mhuire in central Dublin.

“It’s deeply concerning and disgraceful that these offensive and racist signs have been erected in an attempt to create fear and intimidate people," said MP Paul Maskey. “There is no place for this type of behaviour in our society. These signs should be removed.

"Sinn Féin is committed to building a society based on equal rights and equal opportunities for all who live here. I would urge anyone with information on the erection of these signs to bring it forward to the police.

“Political and community leaders must stand together to continue building a safe, welcoming and inclusive society for all.”

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll condemned the slogan and said the far-right were attempting to use issues caused by the government to stoke hatred and division in communities.

“There is no place in our society for this kind of racist poison,” he said. “Nefarious and far-right elements are seeking to blame migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees for the problems caused by the rich and governments who protect and bolster corporate profits at all costs. Minorities also face real problems of state racism that need to be combated.

“There is a housing crisis but it is caused by governments who have not lifted a finger to build homes and refused to support measures proposed by People Before Profit to alleviate its worst elements.

“We are under no illusions that ‘Irish Lives Matter’ is a racist slogan which is directly counterposed to movements against the oppression faced by black people and other ethnic minorities. Ironically, the far-right thugs who raise such slogans are nowhere to be found when campaigns emerge to address the hardships people face here. 

“In recent days we have seen the chilling effect that the growth and intervention of far-right forces in the South can have on communities who are marginalised. We urgently need to call out and challenge those seeking to stoke hate, division, and racism."

The racist graffiti which appeared in a loyalist housing estate in Suffolk recently

The racist graffiti which appeared in a loyalist housing estate in Suffolk recently

SDLP Councillor Paul Doherty said the the sign and the graffiti "in no way reflects the West Belfast that I live and work in every day".

"This is a welcoming area that is home to a diverse array of people and I regularly work with asylum seeker families and others who are new to the area that are proud to make their home in West Belfast, among people who have given them a warm welcome and extended the hand of friendship.

“The people who erected this sign do not speak for families living in Suffolk or any other part of West Belfast and I have asked council to remove the graffiti outside the Kennedy Centre which is clearly a vain attempt to stoke divisions in a community where people know all too well the importance of looking out for each other and showing solidarity with their neighbours."

Signs were recently erected in the Suffolk area in West Belfast calling for immigrants not to be housed in the loyalist estate.