The theft and destruction of Unison and political posters at a health workers’ picket line in Co Armagh has been branded ‘juvenile and despicable’.
The union Unison has not commented on the vandalism but it is understood health workers are ‘very upset’ that their posters were removed over the past week from their picket line at the entrance to Craigavon Area Hospital.
Sinn Fein’s Upper Bann candidate John O’Dowd reported the theft of his election posters to the PSNI.
Mr O’Dowd said: “It would appear we have a very selective thief on our hands.
“Those behind the theft have chosen to steal all posters with the slogan ‘DUP voted against a pay rise for nurses’ we placed outside Craigavon and Lurgan hospitals. The theft of election posters is a criminal offence and several people have faced the courts for previous, similar offences in Upper Bann.
“The thieves in this case appear to have been very selective but it is still theft and a crime has been reported.”
SDLP MLA and Upper Bann Westminster candidate Dolores Kelly said she had been informed by Unison that some political activists had removed trade union posters.
“It is despicable and childish and in very poor taste that they are piggybacking on a local Unison picket.
“Some political parties seem to think we are stupid not to remember who held the health ministries in the Assembly,” said Mrs Kelly.
Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie who is also standing in the Upper Bann constituency said this happens every year and he has also had posters removed defaced and set on fire. “It is clear that this General Election Campaign has been particularly vicious at times and ‘poster wars’ are nothing new,” he said.
“As I have stood on a number of official UNISON pickets I have been informed that some of their posters, particularly around the Craigavon Area Hospital, have been removed and replaced with political posters. I find this particularly petulant given UNISON members are picketing for better pay due to the failure of political leadership only for political posters to replace theirs. I am also aware that some political parties, at the same roundabout, have had their posters removed to be replaced by political rivals. I find it all very tedious, juvenile and uninspiring.”
DUP MLA Carla Lockhart, who is standing in the forthcoming Westminster election, said: “I would utterly condemn the removal of election posters of any party.
"Having seen some of my own posters removed this election it is frustrating but I won’t be deterred from delivering a positive message for Upper Bann and offering the electorate their voice in Westminster.
"I noted that it had been reported to the police and that is the proper course of action. I fully support any police investigation.”