Outrage at sectarian graffiti on church wall
Worshippers have faced a barrage of sectarian graffiti daubed on the walls of a Protestant church as they arrived for their Sunday service yesterday.
The republican slogans were painted across a wall and on the doors of Ballyarnett Presbyterian Church in Londonderry overnight.
It marks the latest in a long line of sectarian attacks on buildings associated with the Protestant community in the north west.
The Rev Alastair Rosborough said some of the words were so bad they could not be repeated.
"They basically say to us that we are not welcome here," he said.
"This is supposed to be the year when this city is the UK City of Culture and we're being told, you're not welcome here."
DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the graffiti attack was disgraceful and must be condemned by everyone in the area.
"The graffiti was grossly offensive, sectarian and blatantly anti-Protestant," he said.
"Religious freedom is one of the foundation stones of the United Kingdom, those behind this attack want to close Protestant churches and bully Protestants.
"Whilst an attack like this can raise tensions, I would urge everyone to be calm and certainly there should be no retaliation."
Mr Campbell said that the onus must firmly lie with the police to reassure Protestants that proper security will be provided and that every effort will be made to bring those responsible to justice.
"Too many Orange halls and Protestant homes in the north west are being attacked without anyone being brought before our courts," he said.
"The Chief Constable needs to take this hate crime seriously and make a visible and determined effort to tackle it.
"We must see a united and vocal opposition from all shades of politics."
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness took to Twitter to condemn the attack: "Totally disgusted at the hate filled bigots who daubed sectarian slogans on Ballyarnett Presbyterian Church, Derry. #Shameful."
Sinn Fein councillor Tony Hassan said that the people who defaced the church did not represent the views of the local people and are not republicans.
"I can reassure the Rev Rosborough that he and his church are very much welcome in this area," he said.
"There has been a Presbyterian community in Ballyarnett area for many years and I hope for many years in the future.
"The local community are outraged at this act of vandalism and I would call on people to stop these actions, especially against a place of worship."