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Last Updated: Friday, 10 March 2006, 15:48 GMT
Church vandal attack 'was racist'
The church is currently hosting a parish mission
The church is currently hosting a parish mission
A Catholic church in east Belfast has been targeted by vandals who daubed racist slogans.

Graffiti and excrement were daubed on the inside walls of St Colmcille's Church on the Upper Newtownards Road.

The parish priest said the attack was racially motivated. It was reported to police at about 2000 GMT on Thursday but details have just been released.

Father Paddy Delargy said a small section of society seems unable to accept those from other countries.

Fr Delargy said: "There is a sickness in our society which does seem to be racist," he said.

My neighbouring church and my friends have been attacked
Reverend Richard Hill
Presbyterian minister

"There seems to be a fixation with writing disparaging remarks about children.

"These are offensive remarks, which is most unfortunate."

The church is currently hosting a parish mission.

'Absolutely disgraceful'

Racist slogans had been daubed on posters promoting the mission, said Fr Delargy.

"This is the third time that this has happened," he said.

"We have Indians and quite a number of Filipinos who come regularly to the church."

Fr John Hannah from Belfast's Clonard Monastery, which is behind the mission, said he felt sad about what happened.

Fr Delargy said there "is a sickness in our society"
Fr Delargy said there "is a sickness in our society"

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I have to be honest - I felt anger as well," he said.

Presbyterian minister the Reverend Richard Hill, a past chairman of Belmont Council of Churches, said the incident was absolutely disgraceful.

"My neighbouring church and my friends have been attacked," he said.

"This attack has desecrated their church and it has made racist remarks.

"Maybe it relates to some people in the church, but it is an attack on the whole community of Christians in east Belfast."

A police spokeswoman appealed for anyone with information to contact police directly or use the Crimestoppers number.

Alliance Party East Belfast assembly member Naomi Long said "to defile any building in this way is shameful, but to do it to a church is to disrespect people and to disrespect God".

"This is not just an attack on a church, but an attack on the entire community," she said.

DUP East Belfast MP Peter Robinson said the attack was disgraceful.

"This kind of outrageous behaviour is totally unacceptable and cannot be condoned in any way. Places of worship ought not to be subject to such attacks, the principle of civil and religious liberty for all must extend throughout the province regardless of race, religion or background."

Ulster Unionist spokesperson on community and race relations Esmond Birnie described the attacks as "vile".

"In a week's time we should be celebrating St Patrick's Day, but it seems that all too many people within our society have scant respect or tolerance for the beliefs of others," he said.


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