Sectarian girl gang turn the air blue over kerbstones paint job

IT WAS an act of sectarian vandalism that a gang of girls were reluctant to see washed away. The teenagers had painted the kerbstones of Larkhall red, white and blue.

So when staff from the cleansing department of South Lanarkshire Council arrived to return the kerbs to their natural hue, they were quickly driven off by a torrent of verbal abuse from a group known to residents as the "larky Derry girls".

It is the latest example of sectarian behaviour in the Lanarkshire town known for its over-enthusiastic support of Rangers Football Club and the Queen, as well as a difficult relationship with the colour green.

On 10 July, before a popular march by the Orange Order, the girls painted the kerbs in Shaw Street, before daubing Loyalist slogans on the road.

Residents complained to the council, saying the street had been turned into a "mini-Belfast", but when cleansing officers from South Lanarkshire Council arrived to survey the damage they were verbally abused by the gang.

A council source last night revealed that the team of cleansing officers were forced to leave the street, fearing the situation could have turned violent.

"There was a fairly large group who just subjected our team to mouthfuls of abuse," he said. "That wasn't enough for them to leave, but they began threatening them and throwing stuff at the van. In the end, the line manager decided it wasn't worth the hassle, and we called it a day."

Locals last night said the street was "an eyesore" and like a "mini-Belfast". One resident said they were fed up with the town's reputation. He said: "It is actually getting embarrassing. There are loads of good people in Larkhall, but every year there are a group who bring the place down. These people are mindless idiots, some aren't even old enough to know what they are doing, but have been brought up this way."

The reputation of Larkhall has been sullied in recent years by a number of sectarian incidents. Last year, the Subway chain, whose trademark livery is green, changed its colours to blue when it opened a branch in the town. There have also been reports of individuals smashing green traffic lights.

The traffic-light attacks reportedly caused almost 17,000 damage, forcing South Lanarkshire Council to install wire grilles to protect them.

Last night, a spokeswoman from the council said the street had yet to be cleaned up. She said: "Our staff were abused when they went to visit the site and were forced to leave the area. The street has yet to be cleaned up, but we are actively looking for ways to do so."

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