Sectarian incidents increase

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A Catholic church in County Antrim has been targeted in a loyalist paint bomb attack.

St Mary’s Catholic Church in Ahoghill was attacked last Friday, 15 May, with paint thrown across the door and front of the church.

Parish priest Fr Hugh O’Hagan, who is 82 years old and self-isolating in the parochial house due to the coronavirus, said it was the first such attack for some time.

“In the deeper days of the Troubles this sort of attack would have happened, but it hasn’t happened for a good number of years now, he said.

“We will be taking steps from Monday to get it cleaned - I am hoping the council would be willing to help - but please God it will be cleaned up quickly.”

Sinn Féin councillor Ian Friary said the incident was “a sectarian hate crime and those responsible should be held to account. Parishioners and locals are incensed by this disgraceful paint bomb attack which is nothing more than blatant sectarian vandalism.”

An increase in sectarian incidents, which has continued throughout May, has been blamed on youths from both communities at a loose end due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The village of Ballycarry in County Antrim saw highly offensive graffiti daubed on a road and kids play park in the area recently. The “extreme” messages were widely condemned.

William Thompson, chair of Ballycarry Community Association, said the graffiti was “not reflective in any way at all of the decent minded folk who live in this community.”

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