Church attacked as tensions continue

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A Catholic church in Limavady, County Derry has been desecrated with loyalist paramilitary slogans as sectarian incidents have continued across the North this summer.

Parishioners were disgusted by the attack on St Mary’s Catholic Church in the town, during which a crucifix was damaged and UDA and UFF slogans were daubed on the walls. A statue of Jesus was also defaced.

Monsignor Bryan McCanny said the attack was discovered on Friday morning.

“We never had a problem like this before. There was something very minor about five or six years ago but this is completely new to us,” he said.

He had noticed an increase in loyalist graffiti in the town.

“Parishioners are very upset about it. It’s depressing that things like this should happen when we are enjoying peace.”

Sinn Fein’s Caoimhe Archibald said the attack was “nothing more than blatant sectarian vandalism” and those responsible needed to be “brought to book”. She said the attack had followed an increase in the numbers of paramilitary flags being flown and a surge in kerb painting in the town.

There was also a report of criminal damage on the hall of Crumlin Presbyterian Church outside Belfast.

Members of the congregation spotted the damage when they went to church on Sunday.

Local Sinn Fein representative Declan Kearney said the attack was “an act of blatant sectarianism”.

“This is a despicable act of vandalism and yet another attempt to stir up tensions in the community,” he said. “Those responsible represent the worst of our past, and contribute nothing to our future.

“Sectarianism is a cancer in our society; anyone who subscribes to that mindset is anti-community and seeks only to sow division and fear.

A memorial to victims of the Kingsmill attack was also vandalised this week, with flowers and wreaths thrown about. It is the fourth time the memorial has been attacked since it was erected in 2013.

Newry and Armagh MP Mickey Brady described the incident as “inexcusable” and “repugnant”.

“Everyone must have the right to remember their loved ones with dignity and respect,” he said.

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