Northern Ireland news

Minister urges Protestants to visit Catholic church targeted in sectarian attack

Rev David Armstrong has urged Protestants to attend St Mary's Catholic Church in Limavady after it was targeted in a sectarian graffiti attack
Connla Young

A FORMER Presbyterian minister has urged Protestants to visit a Catholic church targeted in a sectarian graffiti attack.

Rev David Armstrong spoke out after attackers daubed UDA and UFF on St Mary’s Church in Limavady during an overnight attack on Monday.

Black paint was also thrown over a nearby cross bearing the image of Jesus.

Rev Armstrong was forced to leave Limavady with his wife and children by loyalists after exchanging Christmas greetings with his Catholic counterpart Fr Kevin Mullan in 1985.

He later retrained as a Church of Ireland minister and served in Co Cork before he retired.

Damage caused after a paint attack at St Marys Church in Limavady

Rev Armstrong suggested that Protestants should visit the church.

"It would not be a bad thing if on a Saturday night or Sunday morning that they would go to (the) church as a way of saying, ‘we not only say in words we don’t like what has been done, but by our presence - even if a token gesture - people will be able to see the people who wrote on the church don’t speak for us," he said.

He said Protestants from Limavady should distance themselves from the actions of the attackers.

“It’s up to Protestant people in Limavady to show their true selves at least by lifting the phone, writing a letter or going to speak to their Catholic neighbours to say what was done to your church does not represent me,” he said.

Rev Armstrong also described the paint attack on the cross “sacrilege”.

 A statute of Christ on the Cross was targeted in a paint attack on St Mary's Church in Limavady

Secretary of the Evangelical Protestant Society Wallace Thompson also slammed those behind the attack.

“Those who daubed slogans on this church have no clue about the doctrinal differences between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, nor do they care,” he said.

“They have no commitment to the great principles of civil and religious liberty.

“They are no better than the thugs who attacked Rasharkin Orange hall at the weekend.

“Whoever they are, they are the enemies of the Protestant cause.”

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