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An online funding appeal to help replace the instruments and equipment lost by Dervock Young Defenders band in last week’s arson attack on the community bus in the village has almost reached its target in just two days.

Police are treating as a hate crime the arson attack which took place in the early hours of Friday morning.

The bus was burned out and Dervock Flute Band lost eleven drums, including the bass drum, two flags and a standard in the attack.

A GoFundMe online appeal was launched on Friday with the aim of raising £2,500.

The online appeal said: “The band is receiving overwhelming support already via messages on the internet, but they would be ever so grateful if you could make a donation to help cover the cost of this callous attack. Everything counts.”

At the time of going to press, the amount raised stood at £2460.

Ballymoney UUP councillor Darryl Wilson said: “It is no surprise that local people and numerous bands from across the province have rallied behind Dervock Young Defenders ensuring that they are able to carry on celebrating their culture and heritage by continuing to take part in parades across Northern Ireland.

“Those who carried out the attack on Friday morning must be caught and brought before the courts.”

Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact them.

Dervock Young Defenders had been involved in an incident with Independent councillor Padraig McShane during the twelfth of July parade in Ballycastle.

Cllr McShane issued a statement on the bus attack calling it “too coincidental”.

He continued: “Any history of criminality and arson in the Dervock area has been attributed solely to the local UDA. There is absolutely no history of any other attacks. These are not only my thoughts but are corroborated by PSNI briefings”.

The councillor continued: “This arson attack will not deflect from holding to account those who displayed naked sectarianism on the streets of Ballycastle at last week’s racist hate feast.

“Whomever burnt the bus, I condemn them for attempting to raise community tensions. I demand a thorough and transparent investigation into the alleged arson.”