Northern Ireland news

Priest targeted in sectarian attack thanks Protestant clergy for support

Fr Joseph McVeigh outside Tattygar House, Lisbellaw following a sectarian attack. Picture by Ann McManus.

AN elderly Co Fermanagh priest has told how Protestant clergy reached out the hand of friendship after his home was damaged in a sectarian attack.

Fr Joseph McVeigh's Tattygar House in Lisbellaw was attacked on Remembrance Sunday while he was at a wake.

Three downstairs windows were smashed in the attack that police are treating as a premeditated hate crime.

Addressing parishioners at St Michael's Church in Enniskillen, Fr McVeigh said he was "shocked" and "saddened".

"This has been upsetting for me and for many in the parish of all persuasions," he said.

"I have had messages of support from all sections of the community. The Church of Ireland Bishop and the Church of Ireland Dean here and the Church of Ireland clergywoman in Lisbellaw all expressed their concern and support.

"Of course, there have been attacks on priests' houses before and indeed this same house has been attacked in the past, as has St Mary's Primary school next door."

He added that he "thought that those days were over".

"It seems that there is an element who have not yet moved on, who really do not want peace or equality. They do not agree with free speech," he said.

"I suppose I have always been outspoken about injustice and matters of concern to people. Recently, I have expressed my views about Brexit and these may not go down well with certain people but it is no excuse to attack my house.

"I hope that goodwill come out of it - that it will make those in our community who want a better future more determined to work for peace and justice. I am most grateful for the support I have received from many good people, from both traditions in the parish and from people outside the parish."

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