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Parochial house of prominent priest in Fermanagh targeted in sectarian attack

Fr Joe McVeigh at Tattygar House, Lisbellaw where windows were smashed in a sectarian attack. Picture by Ann McManus

A PROMINENT Catholic priest whose parochial house was targeted in a sectarian attack has said he does not want to move. 

Fr Joe McVeigh returned to Tattygar House in Lisbellaw in Fermanagh on Sunday evening to find windows smashed in what police are treating as a 'hate crime'.

Around £1,000 worth of damage was caused.

The building sits next to a primary school in a mainly unionist area of Fermanagh, and was previously attacked around 20 years ago by loyalists.

Fr McVeigh, who at 70 years old is semi-retired, said he does not want to leave but may need extra security.

He had been visiting the home of a cousin who had died before attending a second wake house in Enniskillen and only discovered the damage when he returned home just after 8.30pm on Sunday.

"When I drove up I noticed one of the windows smashed and immediately thought there had been a burglary, but then I noticed two other windows had been smashed as well and there was nothing disturbed in the house," he said.

"They're quite tough windows, they're double glazed and would take a bit of force to break and there were no bricks or anything lying about.

"Whoever was responsible must have come armed with something - police thought maybe a baseball bat or a crow bar."

He said although the house was attacked during the Troubles he had not received any threats.

"However, I am known to be outspoken and have been quite public around the Brexit campaign on the remain side," he said.

"Whether that upset someone or not I'm not sure. It was Remembrance Sunday and there were a lot of people out and about, but who knows what's in these people's minds.

"It's not a nice thing to happen and it would worry you of course, but I don't want to move. I will have to look at getting some added security around the house though".

Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff, a friend of Fr McVeigh, said the popular priest had the "good wishes and prayers" of many people.

"Fr McVeigh has been a champion of human rights and social justice for decades and has many, many friends both across Ireland and as far away as the United States where his work on social issues is well known.

"While this is a terrible thing to have happened, I've spoken to him and he is aware that he has the support of many people."

The PSNI said several ground floor windows were smashed some time between 4pm and 8pm on Sunday and appealed for information.

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