Belfast Telegraph

Vandals defecate in Londonderry church during break-in

Politicians have condemned a break-in at a Church of Ireland church in Londonderry during which the intruders defecated and urinated inside the building.

In the course of the burglary the church's organ was damaged and a crystal decanter used for Holy Communion services stolen.

It is believed the vandals made their way into the church by smashing a stained-glass window.

They also knocked over vases of flowers and threw a bible from the lectern into the sanctuary.

The break-in at Christ Church on Infirmary Road in Derry happened at some point between Sunday afternoon and Tuesday evening.

In a statement, the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe said the organ in the church is "one of the finest instruments of its kind in Ireland" and will be out of use for the foreseeable future.

Bishop Ken Good said that the church's organ had been installed after an arson attack 21 years ago.

Speaking on local radio he said: "I feel compassionate towards those who did this. Because I don’t know what their lives amount to if this is what they have to contribute to society.

"I’d love to talk to them, to meet them, to sit down and have a conversation with them because there are greater things that they could be doing with their lives than this."

The attack was condemned by Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, who wrote on Twitter that it was "simply repugnant" and asked the public to contact police with information.

Politicians from various political parties visited the church to show their support for parishioners including the DUP's Gary Middleton, Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney, and the SDLP's Mark Durkan.

Speaking about the attack, Sinn Fein MP for Foyle Elisha McCallion said: "This break-in and wanton vandalism at Christ Church in Derry was disgraceful and I condemn it utterly.

"All places of worship should be treated with respect and any attack on them is an act of sacrilege."

She added that her thoughts were with Archdeacon Robert Miller and the parishioners at the church and urged anyone with any information about the attack to contact the PSNI.

SDLP councillor and Deputy Mayor of Derry John Boyle branded the burglary "repugnant and sickening".

"Churches perform an important role in our society and an attack of this nature is a challenge to the entire community," he said.

"It’s my understanding that the church organ was damaged in the attack. This has caused a lot of upset for church users of all denominations and has been particularly distressing to members of the congregation."

The PSNI's Inspector Jonathan Hunter has appealed for anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the local area to contact police in Strand Road on the non-emergency number 101 quoting the reference 949 with the date 12/09/2017.

Members of the public can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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