A SPATE of attacks on Protestant churches in predominately nationalist areas has sparked fears of a return to sectarian hate crime.
Both Belleek Parish Church of Ireland and Lisnaskea Presbyterian Church have been targeted in the last two weeks and there are fears that both attacks were motivated by sectarianism.
The two churches sustained broken windows and police are currently investigating both incidents.
These are not the first instances of Protestant churches being the target of criminal damage and sectarian hate crime. The Holy Trinity Church, also in Lisnaskea was targeted in May when a leaded glass window was broken and lewd sectarian graffiti chalked on the driveway
And it is thought that an attack on St Patrick’s Church of Ireland at Castle Archdale was also sectarian in nature – anti-Protestant graffiti was sprayed on the doors of the walls and church.
Roslea-based UUP councillor Harold Andrews said it would be a cause for concern if the spate of attacks were to continue, but he was confident most people were appalled by such actions.
“There is certainly an amount of sectarian element in it, but I I would like to think people are not supportive of such behaviour. It is a deplorable state of affairs when you’re attacking someone’s place of worship.”
And DUP councillor Paul Robinson, admitted that should these latest attacks prove to have sectarian roots it could be worrying for community relations within the county.
“It is very worrying that these sort of actions are still going on. A church is a sacred place and should never be touched regardless of what religion it is. I don’t wish to see any place of worship damaged it is not right at all.
“It would be a real concern if this behaviour began starting again, I thought we were passed that and that we had moved into a new era.”
In Belleek a 3 x 3 window was broken at the church. It is thought the incident occurred sometime between the evening of September 20th and 3pm.
Reverend Ngozi Njoku, Minister in the Slavin, Belleek, Kiltyclogher and Garrison parishes admitted her frustration at the attack.
“I honestly have no clue of the details, I think it may have been a stone. It is frustrating, but I don’t exactly know where to pin it down to. I will leave it to the police,” she said.
Anyone who can help police with their enquiries is asked to contact them on 0845 600 8000.
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