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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 18:03 GMT 19:03 UK
Priest stabbed in face
Father Matt Wallace
Father Matt Wallace was treated in hospital for his injuries
A Belfast priest has been stabbed in the face with a screwdriver during an attempted burglary at a school.

Father Matt Wallace from the Holy Trinity Parish was attacked at St Martin's nursery school on Thursday morning.

The assault happened after the priest and a caretaker went to the school at about 0200 BST, aftering hearing the alarm.

They searched the building and discovered the alarm box had been damaged.

I grabbed the biggest one of them and wouldn't let him go
Father Matt Wallace

The priest, who is on the board of governor's at the school, said they then hid, because in the past when the alarm had been tampered with, the school was then ransacked.

Father Wallace told BBC Radio Ulster they then saw a number of youths approaching them.

"I grabbed the biggest one of them and wouldn't let him go," he said.

"They started flailing and lashing at me, started lashing with the screwdriver and the lad I was holding couldn't get away from me.

"He kept shouting at the other fellow: 'Stab him, stab him, stab him quick, hurry up and stab him.'

"I got the hood of his face and I knew exactly who he was."

Father Wallace was treated in hospital for his injuries but has since been discharged.

A 19-year-old man arrested after the incident has been released pending a report.

BBC NI's Maggie Swarbrick
"Fr Wallace is the first to admit it could have been a whole lot worse"

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