Members of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have condemned the placement of a poster at the Enniskillen Cenotaph, which police are treating as a hate crime, and called on anyone with information to come forward.

During a special Council meeting, Democratic Unionist Councillor Keith Elliott said: “It was disgraceful that a Republican poster was placed on the War Memorial by the Robert Emmet 1916 Society, ahead of the Act of Remembrance.

“They should front up and explain their need to be so insensitive and offensive. It was a deliberate act and designed to offend.”

He welcomed the PSNI “swiftly deciding to investigate this as a hate crime”, continuing: “Those responsible are in the minority and always will be. Their sick agenda has little or no support. We do not want this behaviour in our district, nor to have community relations damaged.”

Councillor Elliott’s proposed condemnation was placed on the Council record.

Seconding, party colleague Councillor Mark Buchanan supported the condemnation as “it was a time when many gathered to remember and reflect”.

Sinn Fein Councillor Tommy Maguire said: “It was an insensitive act, but there’s quite a lot of insensitivity out there. The Unionists calling for the poster to be taken down – while correct – their silence on UVF flags still flying in Enniskillen is objectionable ... Relations are good and we try to maintain them, but the presence of UVF flags across the town is not conducive to that.”

Councillor Elliott responded: “The UVF flags are no longer flying in Enniskillen.”

While welcoming this, Councillor Maguire said: “Given the hate-crime definition at the Cenotaph, I suggest the PSNI investigate UVF flags and Soldier F-support banners as potential hate-crimes. The speed of the PSNI response to the Cenotaph was amazing, yet they won’t respond to others.”

He concluded: “I could be cynical and suggest the UVF flags were removed because they knew this issue was going to be discussed. I know many will think that.”

Councillor Donal O’Cofaigh, Independent, said: “The positioning of these posters, given the tragic history and the timing, was clearly designed to cause hurt and division. It was, and is, totally unacceptable. We need to do everything to protect our good community relations and bring people together.”

Referring to other controversial emblems, he added: “We need a comprehensive approach to flags, which recognises the right to protest, but also the rights of the rest of us to live free from intimidation, fear or sectarian hate.”

The SDLP’s Councillor John Coyle described the incident as: “Disgusting and deplorable. Flying flags and emblems is divisive and hurtful. This was done by petty individuals who want to cause strife, and I condemn their actions.”

Councillor Alex Baird, Ulster Unionist concurred, and urged anyone with information to bring it to police. He added: “The insensitivity of placing this poster at the War Memorial was particularly disgusting.”

Independent Councillor Josephine Deehan remarked: “This was an act of provocation. It was more than insensitive – it was deliberate and is a form of hate crime. These acts have no place in our society.”

However, Independent Councillor Bernice Swift, cautioned on the term ‘hate-crime’, as: “I would like to think it most definitely wasn’t. The poster may have been misplaced. As I understand it, the hate-crime angle is currently being investigated but not yet categorised.”

She continued: “I strongly feel there is grandstanding on condemnation. I don’t believe the good relations genuinely exist because there was deafening silence when offensive flags went up... This Council would be better uniting to call for truth and justice for all victims, including the Enniskillen bomb.”

Ulster Unionist Councillor Victor Warrington hit back on the suggestion the poster was placed at the Cenotaph by mistake: “There’s no doubt it was meant to be put there. Everyone knows well the act of terrorism on Remembrance Sunday, 1987.”

Concluding the discussion, the Chair, Councillor Errol Thompson, said: “Given all that happened in Enniskillen in 1987, and in Remembrance Week, it was provocation. It was a very unhelpful incident, to say the least, and let’s hope it never happens again.”

The proposal passed with the support of all except Councillor Swift, who abstained.