Sectarian attacks in Ballymena

Published Thursday, 09 July 2009
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Sectarian attacks that saw five Catholic churches paint-bombed, a car burnt out on GAA grounds and damage caused to an Orange Hall have been condemned by politicians and Presbyterian congregations.

Police are investigating overnight attacks on Catholic churches on the Crebilly and Larne Roads in the town, on the Ballymena Road in Cullybackey and the Portglenone Road in Ahoghill.

A church in Rasharkin was also vandalised.

The gates of a GAA club in Ahoghill were also forced open and a car driven into the grounds on the Crosskeys Road was burnt out.

'Distressing'

"When any vandalism to church property of any denomination takes place, it is very unsettling and distressing for the members of the congregation and embarrassing to the local community," said Rev Joseph Andrews.

He said that Presbyterian clergy in the area had contacted their Catholic counterparts to offer support.

"Everyone has a duty to worship God and everyone's culture should be free from attack," he said.

Burnt out car at St Mary's GAA club

North Antrim Sinn Fein MLA Daithi McKay said a GAA mural in the village of Dunloy was also attacked.

"This was clearly a series of orchestrated attacks on Catholic Church and GAA property in the North Antrim area last night which needs to be condemned outright," he said.

"Unfortunately, such incidents have occurred before in the lead-up to the Twelfth and there is an onus on everybody in this area, especially elected representatives, to use their influence to ensure that tensions do not rise further and that attacks on either side of the community are brought to an end."

The SDLP's Declan O'Loan said he was saddened by the vandalism. He said it was a return to the kind of sectarian attack that had not been seen for some time in the North Antrim area.

'Disgusted'

North Antrim Ulster Unionist Rev Robert Coulter said:

"I am completely disgusted by these attacks, which have neither justification nor support."

Chief Inspector Ryan Henderson responsible for the North Antrim area has appealed for the public to help.

"I would like to assure people that police will be doing all we can to bring those responsible for these attacks before the courts and to try to ensure that no further damage is caused," he said.

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure Nelson McCausland has condemed the attack on the GAA club in Ahoghill and all attacks on sporting and community premises.

The Minister said: "Whether they are Churches, GAA facilities or Orange Halls, attacks on premises anywhere should be totally and unreservedly condemned."

The DUP'S North Belfast MLA Nelson McCausland also condemned an attack on Greencastle Orange Hall in north Belfast where a bin was pushed against the hall and set alight.

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure Nelson McCausland has condemed the attack on the GAA club in Ahoghill and all attacks on sporting and community premises.

The Minister said: "Whether they are Churches, GAA facilities or Orange Halls, attacks on premises anywhere should be totally and unreservedly condemned."

Alliance Party MLA Trevor Lunn said:"These thoughtless acts are simply contemptible."

"We are trying to build a shared future based on respect for everyone and these types of incidents merely hurt the community."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
3 Comments
Paul in Cardiff wrote (1,744 days ago):
William, your comment has an underlying sectarian justification tone.
William Blacker in Bushmills wrote (1,744 days ago):
Unfortunately after the recent attacks on Orange halls by republicans in the North Antrim area - the latest being Rasharkin and Glarryford Orange Halls only two days ago - then this retaliation on roman catholic property was inevitable. Tit for tat.
Peter in Cookstown wrote (1,744 days ago):
I completely agree, attacking a chaple - GAA grounds - like ok we all no why there has been so sort of retaliation to the events from earlier this week. I never understood why GAA grounds were ever brought into this. Its a place of sport not war and the chaples communitys local place to sit and pray in peace. I think these people need to look around them and that includes the nationals in rasharkin...People are moving away from this and all it brings is cleaners bills for both side. Come on grow up lads and move on, if you are so tied up in political affairs go and learn and study it and become MLA's are what ever you want......LEAVE OUT GAA PITCHS ALONE.
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