Northern Ireland news

Man released in Ballyclare church paint attack probe

Paint was thrown at Sacred Heart Church on Doagh Road, Ballyclare. Picture by Ann McManus

A 26-YEAR-old man arrested after a Catholic church was "desecrated" on Easter Sunday has been released.

White paint was thrown over part of Sacred Heart Church on the Doagh Road in Ballyclare, Co Antrim midnight on Sunday and morning Mass.

Police, who described it as a hate crime, arrested the man yesterday morning. He was released on police bail last night.

"The man was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and is currently assisting police with their enquiries. A 35-year-old woman was also cautioned for assisting an offender as part of the investigation," a spokesman said.

SDLP Glengormley councillor Noreen McClelland described the attack on the important date in the Christian calendar as a "desecration".

"This is an appalling, senseless act, the motive being to cause hurt and distress to the Catholic community of Ballyclare," she said.

"Easter Sunday is a special date in the Christian calendar and for the congregation to find their church defaced in such a way is totally unacceptable.

"It is welcome to see so many neighbours and friends condemn this disgraceful deed and I would appeal to anyone to inform the police if they have any information. Those who carried out this crime must be stopped."

DUP MP Paul Girvan and assembly members Pam Cameron and Trevor Clarke condemned the attack in a joint statement saying they "stand with our neighbours".

"All right minded people in Ballyclare will condemn this attack," they said.

"Those who engaged in this deplorable act do not represent the community of Ballyclare and their actions are not indicative of the strong community spirit that exists in the area.

"All places of worship should be free from attack and from the fear of attack.

"We stand with our neighbours at this time and assure them of our support. Furthermore, we appeal for anyone with information to bring this to the PSNI so that the perpetrators of this crime can be brought to justice."

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