Belfast Telegraph

Eye in the sky to guard Newtownabbey church

By Bob Malcolm

A Catholic church in Newtownabbey has yet again been targeted by vandals who have thrown paint over the stonework of the building.

The church has now set up CCTV cameras in an attempt to deter such attacks.

This latest incident at St Mary's Star of the Sea Church happened between 7pm on Saturday and 8.30am on Sunday (October 12/13).

In September the church was attacked with paint and petrol and has been attacked five times previously this year.

Church parish priest, Fr Anthony Alexander said on Tuesday: "The police have been up today and we have CCTV installed now. I don't like going down that route as this is a place of worship and shouldn't have to be monitored, but what else can we do?

"The encouraging thing is the support we have from the local community and politicians.

"It shouldn't happen though. I was heading to a sudden death call. A family had lost a mother, and this is just paint.

"I just can't make out the logic of it. It's destructive vandalism.

"I'm still not going to get uptight about it. It's challenging to learn to forgive, but that's what we're supposed to do.

"People are sad and upset about it."

UUP Newtownabbey councillor, John Scott said: "Attacks on any property are to be condemned, but attacking a place of worship is particularly cowardly. In a free society people should be able to attend their place of worship free from fear, intimidation or obstruction. Those who committed this crime are obviously opposed to a free and open society and should be condemned and ostracised."

DUP MP Nigel Dodds said: "These attacks are the actions of mindless thugs and they will be condemned by all right-thinking people."

Alliance councillor Billy Webb said: "It is extremely saddening when any place of worship is singled out by mindless thugs and attacked. I wholeheartedly condemn this terrible act."

The PSNI have appealed for anyone with information to contact them on 0845 600 8000.

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