Police in Belfast are investigating a photo posted to social media on Monday in which a group of masked men yielding baseball bats, axes and stakes stand before a wall of graffiti that threatens to crucify Catholics.
“Taigs will be crucified,” the shocking message reads, using a derogatory term for Irish Catholics.
The letters “VTOT” are written below, with a cross. They are believed to stand for “Village Team on Tour,” the name of a loyalist gang in South Belfast.
The graffiti was discovered on Monday, when the photo was first shared on social media. It has been widely viewed as an attempt at heightening tension before the Twelfth of July, the day of loyalist celebration that commemorates King William of Orange’s victory in the Battle of the Boyne.
Detective Inspector Declan White said: “Police are currently investigating images that have appeared on social media.
"I would appeal to anyone who has any information about this incident to contact police at Strandtown on the non-emergency number 101. Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.
When the Belfast Telegraph first shared the story many Protestant readers were vocal in their disgust with the image.
One comment, by a woman named Karen Graham, reads: “To all Catholics reading this. Please please never believe that every Protestant thinks this way. We don't!! This makes me ashamed to be one today” and has received over 1,400 likes.
Concurrently, this week Nazi flags tied to lamp posts near a loyalist bonfire site in Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim were taken down.
Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness shared his disappointment over both of these incidents via Twitter.
The overwhelming majority of the Unionist people will be as disgusted as the rest of us at these displays of hatred. pic.twitter.com/Pic9mO08ga
— Martin McGuinness (@M_McGuinness_SF) July 7, 2015
As of yesterday, the graffiti was still present, as the Belfast City Council, the Regional Development Board, and other bodies sought to establish under whose jurisdiction the structure and removal responsibility fall.
[H/T Belfast Telegraph]