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Grenfell campaigners slam Ulster Rugby over response to graffiti attack on stadium

Joe Delaney of the Justice4Grenfell group accused the rugby franchise of “moral bankruptcy’

Graffiti at Ravenhill Park, Belfast

Fire engulfs the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London (Photo by Gurbuz Binici /Getty Images)© Getty Images

Richard SullivanSunday World

Grenfell campaigners have hit out at Ulster Rugby and the PSNI over their response to a graffiti attack at the Kingspan Stadium

Police are investigating after the word ‘Grenfell’ was daubed on the wall of Ulster Rugby’s stadium this week.

The graffiti appeared on the walls and gates on the Onslow Parade/Ravenhill Park side the ground in the east of the city.

This week Joe Delaney of the Justice4Grenfell group accused the rugby franchise of “moral bankruptcy’’ over their partnership with the cladding and insulation company.

Insulation manufactured by the Co Cavan firm made up five per cent of that used in the London tower block in North Kensington that was engulfed in flames in 2017 leaving 72 people dead.

Campaigners have long campaigned for Ulster to abandon their relationship with Kingspan.

“Ulster Rugby should be grateful that what was put on the exterior of their building didn’t catch fire like it did in our building, and which killed 72 people five and a half years ago,” he said.

He said Ulster Rugby and the PSNI’s response mirrored the failure of the authorities in the capital to bring those to book.

“The police spring into action to try and catch someone who painted a word on a wall, there’s more urgency in prosecuting people for things that happen as a reaction to Grenfell rather than those responsible.”

Fire engulfs the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London (Photo by Gurbuz Binici /Getty Images)© Getty Images

He said the company have questions to answer for what happened in 2017.

“The response from Ulster Rugby and the PSNI to what amounts to minor vandalism that will cost no more than a few tins of paint to rectify is further evidence of the moral vacuum that exists in the corporate and government spheres.”

The insulation firm is Ulster Rugby’s shirt sponsor and also holds naming rights for their stadium in Ravenhill in south Belfast.

Ulster Rugby said it is in contact with the PSNI following the incident.

In a statement, it said: “The club would like to thank local residents for their ongoing help and support.

“No further comment will be made while the investigation is ongoing.”

Joe Delaney added that his community “can only wish’ that what was daubed on Grenfell Tower” had been as harmless.

“What price the soul of Ulster Rugby.”

It’s not the first time the stadium has been targeted.

Last March, a billboard expressing solidarity with the Grenfell fire victims was erected close to the grounds on Mount Merrion Avenue ahead of a clash against Cardiff.

It was organised by the Northern Ireland-based campaign group Act Now, Uplift in the Republic, and 38 Degrees, which is based in England.

Campaigners had hoped the billboard would put Ulster Rugby under further pressure to cut corporate ties with Kingspan.

Police said the criminal damage was reported just after 11am on Monday.

PSNI Sergeant Whiteside appealed for witnesses to come forward.

ignited

“Just after 11am today, Monday 2nd January, we received a report of graffiti at a sports stadium in Ravenhill Park,” he said.

“Officers attended and noted a considerable amount of graffiti over the front of the premises.

“Our enquiries have just begun and we would appeal to anyone with information, particularly householders in the area who may have CCTV or other footage which may assist, to contact police at Strandtown on 101, quoting reference number 539 of 02/01/23.”

The Grenfell disaster stunned the world. In June 2017 the outside cladding of the building ignited with dozens of residents trapped in their homes.

Many were told to remain and wait for rescue services but by the time the inferno was extinguished after 60 hours 72 people had lost their lives.

Kingspan is an £18 billion company and a world leader in the industry with more than 15,000 employees in 70 countries.

Cavan GAA has also come under pressure to end its relationship with the company which has naming rights over the county’s Breffni Park ground.

And Formula 1 Team Mercedes mutually agreed to end their partnership with Kingspan following criticism of the deal.

Mercedes driver and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton distanced himself from the partnership, while team principal Toto Wolff apologised to Grenfell survivors and bereaved families.

Ulster’s connection with the company stretches back to 1999 and is due to expire in 2023.


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