Newry church window smashed just weeks after being fixed
A Presbyterian minister has expressed his disgust after a stained glass window at his Co Down church was damaged just weeks after being repaired following an earlier attack.
First Presbyterian (Non Subscribing) Church in Newry has become the latest target in a recent spate of attacks which police are treating as hate crimes.
Officers said they received a report of criminal damage at the church, in John Mitchel Place, on Wednesday.
The attack came less than a year after the same window was broken, causing thousands of pounds of damage.
The local community held a number of fundraisers to raise money for repairs and the work was completed recently.
Rev Norman Hutton, the minister in charge at the church, visited the scene yesterday to inspect the damage.
He described the latest attack as "extremely upsetting" and "very disappointing".
"The stained glass window was erected in memory of my wife's grandmother, Margaret Hanna, and damaged in April of last year," Rev Hutton said.
"The repairs were only finished around two weeks ago.
"We haven't got the final bill for those repairs, but we estimate that it will be £12,000.
"At this stage it is difficult to estimate the cost of the damage this time around, but it could be in the region of £6,000.
"The outer storm glazing has been smashed and we can only hope there is no damage to the window itself.
"From speaking with local people this morning, they are totally disgusted by what has happened.
"In the last few years, we have spent more than £250,000 refurbishing the church.
"People in the area were delighted to see it being brought back to its former glory.
"This type of thing really knocks the stuffing out of you. You turn around and you say, 'Well why do we bother going to all this trouble of putting money into the building, only for vandals to come along and wreck it?'"
Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor condemned the attack as "a despicable and evil act".
He said: "It is difficult to comprehend the mindset of someone who would desecrate any place of worship and there is understandable outrage within the local community that this incident has occurred.
"This will no doubt cause great hurt to the congregation and it is extremely regrettable that they will have to incur further cost to repair the damage which has been caused to their church building. It is vital that the perpetrators of this sickening act are brought to justice."
Newry and Armagh Sinn Fein MP Mickey Brady also condemned the perpetrators.
"It is a despicable act of vandalism and hate," he said. "It has deeply angered and offended the entire community. I appeal to all to stand up against these criminals, assist the police and ensure those behind this outrage are brought to justice".
Earlier this week, pro-IRA and anti-British graffiti was daubed on the walls of Straid Gospel Hall in the Co Londonderry village of Claudy and on the lampposts and road leading into the building.
Claudy Orange Hall on the Main Street was also sprayed with graffiti two weeks ago.
Last December, First Presbyterian Church, on the High Street in Lurgan, had a brick thrown through a glass panel in its front door.
Wooden Remembrance Day crosses were also vandalised.