A Protestant farmer in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland says his pregnant sheep were attacked in an act of sectarian hostility.
Six pregnant sheep were rounded up and painted green, white and gold, the hues of the Irish tricolor in an act that’s part of an ongoing fear campaign in the area, the farmer says.
The Tyrone man, who lives outside the village of Coagh, is now worried that his animals may have lost their unborn lambs as a result of the graffiti attack.
"We'll have to get the sheep scanned to see if the lambs are okay, but they have been through a terrible ordeal and there's a real chance a few lambs will be lost,” he told the Belfast News Letter.
Gateposts on the farm were also painted with the colors, and the tricolor flag was placed in the middle of the field.
The farmer, who wished to remain anonymous, has lived in the area for over 20 years, and though he never had a problem in the past, he says there’s been a recent upsurge in sectarian attacks.
"I have always got on well with people here, but there have been a number of minor things happening, like gates being left open in fields where there are animals,” he said.
"It must have taken at least four or five of them to round up the sheep and paint them, so it is not just one or two young ones involved here."
Willie Frazer of the group FAIR, who advocates for “innocent victims of terrorism,” corroborates this claim, telling the News Letter that his organization has been flooded with reports of similar attacks on “vulnerable” Protestants in the area.
"In the Tyrone attack PIRA slogans were printed on gateposts and a tricolor with the ominous slogan 'We haven't Gone away U No' was left. Despite the poor spelling and low intelligence of the perpetrators their message was a clear warning to the isolated Protestant farmer," he said.
An inquiry into the incident with the sheep has been launched and is continuing.