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Priests held at gunpoint in armed robbery in Omagh

Monsignor Joseph P Donnelly, parish priest of St Joseph's, Drumragh, was one of two priests held up by assailants in parochial houses in Brook Street in the town early on Saturday morning

A PRIEST held at gunpoint in a weekend armed robbery in Omagh went on to officiate at a wedding and mass following his ordeal, a local MLA said yesterday.

Monsignor Joseph P Donnelly, parish priest of St Joseph's, Drumragh, was one of two priests held up by assailants in parochial houses in Brook Street in the town early on Saturday morning.

It is understood that the second was Fr Piotr Zimnoch.

Both priests were in their houses when two men, one armed with a suspected firearm, entered the properties around 9.50am, looking for money.

A police spokesman said both men were unhurt but the intruders had made off with a sum of cash.

Condemning the attack, Sinn Féin MLA for West Tyrone, Barry McElduff, said local people were horrified.

"I called at the Parochial House this afternoon to extend solidarity to the two priests who were robbed at gunpoint and let them know that local people are horrified at this attack," he said.

"My thoughts are with the two priests. I totally condemn this outrageous criminal act and I would appeal to anyone with information as to the identity of the culprits to pass it on to the PSNI.

"I was speaking to Monsignor Donnelly and the most amazing thing was that, despite his trauma, he was just getting on with ordinary pastoral duties. He had a wedding to take later that day and he was continuing with mass as normal on Sunday."

Mr McElduff said such a reaction was typical of Monsignor Donnelly who always went "quietly about his business" and was highly respected by parishioners and the wider community in Omagh.

Police have appealed for information and describe the culprits as being in their thirties and speaking with local accents. Both were wearing green jackets and had their faces covered.

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