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Disgust after Ballymena chapel is targeted in paint bomb attack

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St Mary’s Chapel in Ahoghill which was attacked with paint

St Mary’s Chapel in Ahoghill which was attacked with paint

St Mary’s Chapel in Ahoghill which was attacked with paint

A priest has said he cannot understand why a church near Ballymena was targeted in a paint bomb attack after years of excellent community spirit.

Politicians have united in condemnation of the weekend attack on St Mary's Ahoghill.

The church, near Galgorm in Ballymena, was targeted sometime between Friday evening and Saturday morning.

Damage was caused to the front door and steps of the premises in the incident, which police are treating as a hate crime.

"We're struggling to understand why someone would do this. It has come completely out of the blue," said parish priest Fr Hugh O'Hagan. "We have a good relationship with everyone in the village and the community is shocked and upset that this sort of thing would have happened.

"Two bottles of paint were thrown sometime on Friday night or Saturday morning and it's the first time in many, many years that we've had any sort of incident.

"Sadly the impression is that someone has decided to target a Catholic church, but they are all good, decent people in this village and we've had so much support since people heard what has happened.

"It's upsetting, of course it is, but we'll just have to let the police deal with the situation and hope and pray that something like this doesn't happen again."

There was widespread condemnation from local political representatives.

TUV councillor Stewart McDonald said: "The attack on Ahoghill Roman Catholic Church is totally unacceptable."

UUP councillor William McNeilly hit out at those responsible.

"I have nothing but total, total condemnation for this," he said. "The community should have no time at all for the sort of people who would do this."

Local Sinn Fein councillor Ian Friary said the incident had left parishioners very upset.

"This isn't what we want to see in our community," he said.

"We don't need this sort of thing happening in our area."

Police in Ballymena are investigating the incident and appealed for information.

"Paint was thrown over the door and front of St Mary's chapel on Ballynafie Road," said Sergeant Neil Hewat.

"We are treating this incident as a hate crime and I am appealing for anyone with information to please get in touch with us by calling 101, quoting reference 644 16/05/20."

Belfast Telegraph