Dunanney Centre in loyalist Rathcoole estate attacked over false claim it hosts Irish classes
A community centre has suffered a wave of attacks from sectarian thugs motivated by the mistaken belief it was hosting Irish language classes.
The Dunanney Centre in the loyalist Rathcoole estate has denied the language classes are held there after it was daubed in anti-Catholic graffitti in the latest of a series of attacks.
Chair of the centre Pat Hutchinson said: "There's all sorts of rumours being bandied about. None of them are true.
"There isn't an Irish language class being run at the centre."
Mrs Hutchinson said the centre was heartened by a show of solidarity from local people.
She was speaking after an estimated 150 people staged a noon rally to condemn the ongoing targeting of the centre.
It has a mixed workforce and provides services for all sections of the community.
Those taking part in the rally included individuals who give a political voice to the UDA and UVF.
Both loyalist paramilitary organisations said they were not involved in the attacks and condemned them.
Mrs Hutchinson praised the Spark church group, which helped clean the sickening grafitti off the building.
The centre is run by the Rathcoole Churches Community Group and provides various community facilities, including employment training.
Mrs Hutchinson said centre officials met with politicians and representatives linked to the UDA and UVF.
Both groups condemned the attacks and said they were not sanctioned by them.
After the meeting a joint statement was issued.
It said: "Political, church and loyalist leadership wish to wholeheartedly condemn the attacks on the Dunanney Centre."
Speaking after the meeting, two loyalist community workers, David McCrea and Phil Hamilton, said: "They (the UDA and UVF) have given reassurances for us to convey to the community that they are not behind these attacks."
- The latest attack saw anti-Catholic grafitti was daubed on the building.
- On July 12 the centre was seriously damaged in a petrol bomb attack.
- In mid-June a paramilitary flag was placed on the grounds.
- In April there was an arson attack on its boiler house.