Northern Ireland

Paint bomb thrown at Catholic church

St. Macnissi, Church in Larne. Picture by Ann McManus.
St. Macnissi, Church in Larne. Picture by Ann McManus. St. Macnissi, Church in Larne. Picture by Ann McManus.

A CATHOLIC church in Larne has been paint bombed in what police are treating as a sectarian hate crime.

The vandalism was discovered at St MacNissi's Parish Church in the Agnew Street shortly after 10am Mass on Sunday.

It is understood the paint was thrown over the building overnight.

Local representatives condemned it as an "inexcusable" attack that left the Catholic population in the town "gutted".

Sergeant Alan Lowry said enquiries were continuing and at this stage the incident was being treated as a sectarian hate crime.

He appealed for anyone with information to contact police.

Sinn Féin Causeway Coast and Glens councillor Oliver McMullan, who is a former MLA for the area, condemned the "blatant sectarian attack".

He added that he was receiving reports "on a weekly basis" about sectarian incidents in Larne.

"It is part of an orchestrated campaign against the nationalist people in Larne. While other places are moving on, it is still happening in Larne," he said.

"I am getting reports every week of sectarian attacks in Larne, verbal attacks, physical attacks. There seems to be nothing getting done.

"The church will be cleaned up but the Catholic population is gutted by this. You don't touch a church."

Alliance councillor Gerardine Mulvenna said it was "totally inexcusable to attack a place of worship in this way".

"Everyone has the right to worship as they see fit without fear of intimidation or attack," she said.

"Whoever damaged St MacNissi's must be condemned in the strongest possible terms and I would urge anyone with information to pass it to the police as soon as possible. As a society we will not tolerate attacks on places of worship and the rule of law must apply."