AN IRVINE councillor has described vile sectarian and offensive graffiti in the town as "a slap in the face".

It comes after a spate of vandalism outside The Forum in the Irvine's Bridgegate was brought to the attention of the Times.

Amongst the graffiti, which was found a short distance from the town's Celtic supporters club, were cases of sectarian language and offensive remarks regarding the Pope and the Ibrox disaster which involved fans of Glasgow Rangers FC.

On one of the shutters of the former Forum building, which has been painted to depict an Irish flag, "F****n b******s" and "f*** the Pope".

The same message - "f*** the Pope" - was spotted down the stairs and round the corner from the old indoor market.

While right next to the stairs, graffiti appears to read "watch the stairs, Union Bears".

Union Bears points towards the 'ultra' group who follow Glasgow Rangers FC.

And 'watch the stairs' is a reference towards the Ibrox disaster, where 66 supporters of the Govan based club lost their lives, and another 200 were injured, in a crush among the crowd at an Old Firm game in 1971 as fans tried to leave the ground.

When approached by the Times, Police Scotland say they had "no reports of vandalism at the Forum Shopping Mall in Irvine" from this month.

Irvine West Councillor Scot Gallacher was quick to condemn the acts when they were brought to his attention.

He told the Times: “Any form of vandalism, sectarian or not, is against the law.  

"Aside from the eyesore factor, and the fact that council have to go out and clean this sort of stuff off, why anyone would want to do it in the first place is beyond me.

"There are people out there in Irvine trying their best to clean litter and plant flower beds etc to make the place look better.

"This sort of behaviour is a slap in the face to them.”

Fellow Irvine West councillors - Louise McPhater, Chloe Robertson and Shaun MacAulay - were also approached for comment, though had not replied at the time of writing.