Northern Ireland news

Anti-pope graffiti daubed on Co Derry church investigated as 'hate crime'

Offensive graffiti including F*** the Pope and FTP was sprayed on St Anne's Catholic Church in Kilrea, Co Derry

SECTARIAN graffiti insulting the Pope has been sprayed on a Catholic church in Co Derry.

Detectives say they are treating the incident as a "hate crime" after slogans appeared on the walls and doors of St Anne's Oratory on Garvagh Road in Kilrea.

It was reported to police shortly before 1am on Saturday.

An Ulster Unionist councillor for the area, Richard Holmes, condemned the attack as "repulsive" and called on any witnesses to come forward.

"Every time we think society here is moving beyond such mindless incidents, something like this happens and we're reminded just how far we have yet to go," he said.

"I hope this is a one off and not the start of a repulsive campaign to threaten and intimidate those attending their place of worship or other community activities. Unless we break this circle of mindless acts of sectarianism our society will forever be dominated by intolerance, hatred and violence."

Sinn Féin councillor Sean Bateson said parishioners were "incensed" by the graffiti and called for those responsible to be brought to justice.

Mr Bateson said he visited the parish priest on Saturday offer his support and added that the graffiti has since been removed.

"I would call on anyone with any information on this hate crime to bring it forward to the PSNI," the councillor said.

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