County Antrim Police are investigating pro-Russian graffiti discovered on the road to Ballymoney, County Antrim, made famous as a ‘Game of Thrones’ filming location.
The pro-Russian graffiti was discovered by a group of tourists traveling in the area on Saturday morning. The ‘Z’ and ‘Glory to Russia’ symbol has been daubed in paint on the road which has become a major tourist attraction since it was featured in HBO’s fantasy series ‘Game of Thrones’.
The Dark Hedges trees were planted over 200 years ago by the Stuart family, local landowners. They were little known outside the region until they appeared in “Game of Thrones” as Kingsroad.
The graffiti was painted over the weekend, ITV reports. The “Z” symbol, believed to represent “Za pobedy” (for victory), was seen painted on Russian tanks and bases during the invasion of Ukraine.
A police spokesman said: “Investigations are ongoing.”
Unfortunately, the incident happened as a number of Ukrainian refugees began arriving in Northern Ireland. Politicians and the community widely condemned the graffiti.
Tourism Northern Ireland chief executive John McGrillen told the Belfast Telegraph “In Northern Ireland we are famous for the warmth of our welcome, that’s what tourists tell us, and this type of activity goes to against everything we stand for, especially at a time when we welcome the victims of Russian aggression in Ukraine into our communities and homes.”
Mervyn Storey of the Democratic Unionist Party said: “What can you say about anyone writing this, to glorify a country that is involved in mass genocide? It’s shameful, in bad taste, despicable.
“Most importantly, it is an insult to all Ukrainian people. As someone who this week hosted Ukrainians and heard firsthand what Russia has done, it is very sad that someone writes such things.
“This is a wanton act of vandalism to one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic places. It’s completely at odds with the warm welcome our local community gives to tourists from all over the world who come see what the Dark Hedges and the North Shore have to offer.
“This week I was happy to be able to welcome refugees from Ukraine into my own church community. It is despicable that they have to face this type of behavior glorifying Russia’s oppressive terror campaign in their homeland. Our support must be with the people of Ukraine.
“I will work closely with local authorities and the PSNI to ensure that this graffiti is immediately removed and those responsible are held accountable.”