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Last Updated: Monday, 5 September 2005, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Moderator attack stance 'lacking'
School papers burned in the fire
A primary seven classroom was destroyed in a fire
A Ballymena priest has criticised the Presbyterian moderator for not doing more to support Catholics in the area after a series of sectarian attacks.

Fr John Burns said he was disappointed at the response by Dr Harry Uprichard, who is a minister in Ahoghill where some Catholic homes have been targeted.

Mr Uprichard said walking with a Catholic bishop to show solidarity was not the best way to deal with this.

Fr Burns said the response was belated and "lacking in any real content".

"This is the minister in Ahoghill, one of the main Presbyterian ministers in Ahoghill and he's also the moderator of the Presbyterian Church," he said.

SECTARIAN ATTACKS IN BALLYMENA 1 MARCH - 31 AUGUST
5 arson attacks, all on Catholics (2 considered as attempted murder)
4 petrol bombs: 2 Catholic, 2 Protestant
5 sectarian assaults: 2 Catholic, 3 Protestant
8 paint attacks: 7 Catholic, 1 Protestant
13 criminal damage: 9 Catholic, 4 Protestant
7 intimidation: 3 Catholic, 4 Protestant
Total incidents: 42. Catholic: 28; Protestant: 14
"He has amazingly been able to, as it were, ignore the elephant in his living room for the last three months.

"Finally we heard something from the moderator yesterday, albeit I think rather belatedly and lacking in any real content."

Mr Uprichard told the BBC's Sunday Sequence programme: "I would feel comfortable walking along the street with the bishop to show solidarity but I don't necessarily think that is the way to meet the problem."

Meanwhile, Church of Ireland Bishop of Connor Alan Harper, who received a standing ovation after speaking at Masses in County Antrim, said words of condemnation over the attacks were not enough.

He said church and political leaders should try to "find ways of modelling a respect for collaborative solidarity with one another".

"It doesn't require any surrender of principle, what it requires is for people to stand together but to be seen to stand together."

Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde said last week that young people were at the centre of an upsurge in the attacks.

He told a meeting of the Policing Board on Friday that sectarianism "was a problem far wider and more complicated than a simple policing solution".

Extra officers have been drafted in to protect property.

Catholic-owned properties, schools and churches have all been targeted.

Thirty police officers have been involved in the fresh security operation to prevent sectarian attacks.

Operation Striker covered 50 Catholic-owned properties, churches, schools and GAA sports grounds last week.

Vehicle checkpoints were set up in Ballymena, Ahoghill and Portglenone whilst mobile patrols covered other locations.


SEE ALSO:
Bishop applauded on attack stance
04 Sep 05 |  Northern Ireland
Security stepped up after attacks
01 Sep 05 |  Northern Ireland
Police to patrol Catholic schools
31 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland
School attacked with petrol bombs
30 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland
'Solidarity' over church clean up
12 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland


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