THE spraying of graffiti on a church has been condemned.
It has now been removed from the wall of St Anne’s Oratory in Kilrea.
The incident was reported to police at 1am on Saturday and Inspector Stephen McCafferty said it is being treated as a “sectarian hate crime”.
The Facebook page for the Church of Ireland Parishes of Kilrea, Tamlaght O’Crilly Upper & Lower said: ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with our friends at St Anne’s Church in Kilrea after their church was vandalised this morning. We do not need acts like this in town.’
Kilrea councillor Sean Bateson (Sinn Fein), Mayor of Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council, said he had visited Parish Priest Father John Cargan “to offer my support following this despicable act”.
The councillor added: “Obviously annoyed that this has happened, especially within Kilrea. The sick graffiti has since been removed and I hope this is the end of such instances.”
Earlier, he said: “This is absolutely horrendous and I want to condemn it in the highest possible fashion. This is a blatant sectarian hate crime in the worst possible form and is designed to heighten and raise tensions at this time of year.
“As a proud Kilrea man, this town represents people of all shades and those who committed this despicable act serve no interest other than their narrow-minded sectarian, hate mindset.
“I would call on anyone with any information on this hate crime to bring it forward to the PSNI and I hope this is rightly condemned across the board.”
Garvagh Ulster Unionist councillor Richard Holmes said: “I’m shocked and saddened to see the overnight attack on the Chapel and Kilrea. Every time we think society here is moving beyond such mindless attacks, something like this happens and we’re reminded just how far we have yet to go.
“What has this attack achieved other than to raise community tensions? Perhaps that is the real reason behind the attack. Unless we break this circle of mindless acts of sectarianism our society will forever be dominated by intolerance, hatred and violence.
“I hope this is a one-off and not the start of a repulsive campaign to threaten and intimidate those attending their place of worship or other community activities.
“Thankfully the graffiti has been quickly removed and hopefully those responsible can be captured. Anyone with any information should get in touch with the PSNI.”
Ballymoney Ulster Unionist councillor Darryl Wilson said: “Vandalism and graffiti have absolutely no place in society or within our Borough and should be fully condemned.
“It takes a particularly sick individual to go out of his or her way to attack a place of worship, in this instance St Anne’s in Kilrea. Intolerance, hatred and fear breeds more intolerance, hatred and fear.
“Those with roles in civic/public/political leadership may have to question what example they are setting for others as attacks like this seem to continue in a perpetual fashion.”
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