A paint attack on a regularly targeted Catholic church in Northern Ireland has been branded a deplorable attempt to raise sectarian tensions ahead of annual Orange marches.
Damage was caused to the door and glass panelling of the Church of Our Lady in Harryville, Ballymena, some time between 11pm last night and 2am this morning, police said.
The church has been attacked on numerous occasions and was also the scene of weekly protests during Mass by loyalists in the 1990s.
Police said they were treating the latest paint attack as criminal damage and they have appealed for information.
Declan O'Loan, SDLP councillor for Ballymena, said anything that has the potential to raise tension in the town is to be deplored.
"I am very saddened by this further paint attack on Harryville Church which has been the subject of so many attacks over the years," he said.
"Ballymena has been relatively free of sectarian incidents in recent times but of course there are still tensions under the surface."
Mr O'Loan said there is concern over the route of the main Twelfth of July Orangemen's parade which this year goes through the more Catholic north end of the town.
"Anything which heightens tensions at this time is to be deplored, and I call on everyone in the community to show restraint and good sense in the coming days," he added.