James Nesbitt: graffiti targeted at actors after Ireland's future speech was treated as a hate crime

James Nesbitt: graffiti targeted at actors after Ireland’s future speech was treated as a hate crime

Police are treating sectarian graffiti targeting actor James Nesbitt as a hate crime after it appeared on a wall in Portrush.

Images of the crosshair painting circulated on social media Wednesday night.

The wall, which is reportedly located near a property owned by the Bloodlands actor, also reads the slogan “1 x King 1 x Crown, no Pope in our town James Nesbitt”.

The vandalism follows Mr Nesbitt’s appearance and keynote address at an Ireland’s Future event in Dublin late last month.

A PSNI spokesman said police received a report on Wednesday about the graffiti in the Bushmills Road area.

It is believed to have been written sometime between 5:00 p.m. Tuesday and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Mr Nesbitt spoke of “a new Union of Ireland” at the Ireland’s Future rally, which supported Irish unity and featured appearances from nationalist politicians including leaders of Sinn Féin and the SDLP, as well as Tanaiste Leo Varadkar.

Ahead of the event, the Coleraine-born star, who comes from a union background, told the Belfast Telegraph: “Something needs to change here and it comes from someone who loves being from here.

“For too long we’ve just been a little stuck and I want to lend my voice to what can change, which hopefully is more of a people-led approach than a political one.

“I’m not sure what the future of Ireland is, I haven’t seen it yet.

“But I think we need to move forward and discuss it a lot more publicly.”

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James Nesbitt in BBC drama Bloodlands

Responding to the graffiti, former First Minister Dame Arlene Foster said freedom of expression “means the right to speak your mind, regardless of what others think”.

“I strongly condemn this attack on James Nesbitt, although I fundamentally disagree with it,” she tweeted. “People need to learn to disagree without resorting to threats.”

Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald also condemned the threat of graffiti against Mr Nesbitt, saying: “These threats are an attack on the right to freedom of expression.

“They come just weeks after James Nesbitt addressed thousands of people from across the political spectrum in Dublin to discuss the future of the island of Ireland.

“This is clearly a sinister attempt to silence the debate and intimidate people into participating in the discussion,” the East Derry MLA continued.

“There is no place in society for threats and hatred towards James Nesbitt.

“Political leaders should stand shoulder to shoulder against these threats.

“Those responsible for this hate crime should be held accountable.

“Anyone who has information about those responsible should forward it to the PSNI.”

Independent MLA Claire Sugden said “these eejits need to get smarter”.

“I don’t share Jimmy’s opinion, but he’s entitled to it,” she tweeted. “If this story is tomorrow’s chip paper Jimmy will still be making his millions as one of Britain’s highest grossing actors promoting the best of Northern Ireland. ”

SDLP’s MLA Cara Hunter said she was “absolutely disgusted by the despicable graffiti”.

“This attempt to shut down the conversation about our constitutional future is a dark development and I am glad to see that it has been condemned by everyone across the political spectrum,” she added.

Colin Harvey, Professor of Human Rights at Queen’s University and campaigner for Ireland’s Future, added: “Brawlers and threats must not derail legitimate and respectful constitutional talks here. Solidarity with James Nesbitt.”

The PSNI said investigations into the graffiti were ongoing and asked anyone with information to contact them in Coleraine on 101 quoting reference number 1677 dated 10/19/22.

Reports can be submitted online using the non-emergency reporting form at www.psni.police.uk/makeareport

Crimestoppers can also be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

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