Belfast Telegraph

Swastikas and 'f*** Gaza' graffiti attack by loyalists on Catholic church sparks anger

By Chris Kilpatrick

Sectarian and racist graffiti daubed on a Catholic church hours before a wedding was due to take place has been described as disgusting.

Pro-Nazi symbols and UVF slogans were scrawled on the walls of St Patrick's Church in Dungannon. Police are treating the attack as a hate crime.

There was widespread condemnation of the vandalism by local politicians.

Parish priest Monsignor Colum Dean Curry said it was the first time he could remember the church being targeted.

He said the slogans were washed off before the wedding took place yesterday.

Sinn Fein MP for the area Michelle Gildernew said the wedding party was shocked by the attack.

"Parishioners are disgusted by this," she said.

"There was a wedding this morning and I spoke to the groom and guests and they couldn't believe it.

"I hope those responsible are punished because this has to stop.

"These kind of attacks tend to lead on to others and could end in someone being seriously injured or killed."

Swastikas were scrawled on the building, as were the slogans 'UVF 14' and 'F*** Gaza'.

The 14 stands for a 14-word white nationalist slogan.

The graffiti was scrawled some time between Tuesday evening and yesterday morning.

DUP councillor Kim Ashton condemned the attack and said she did not want to see any place of worship targeted.

She said: "I believe the graffiti has now been removed and I am awaiting news from the PSNI about the investigation.This type of action is completely wrong and not welcome and whoever is responsible should go and apologise to the church."

SDLP councillor Denise Mullen condemned as "sickening" those responsible for the attack on the church at Killyman Road.

"Whoever is responsible for this should be ashamed," she said.

"To carry out a thuggish act like this on a place of worship is cowardly and, really, it is an attack on the community.

"Whoever is responsible for this vandalism does not represent the good people of Dungannon, and I would urge anyone with information about the incident to contact police."

Sinn Fein MLA Bronwyn McGahan said: "I'm sure the entire local community will condemn this attack and I hope that it won't impact on the positive community relations in the area."

Mgr Curry added: "There have been no incidents of this kind in the past and we don't want to make a big issue out of it."

Police said their inquiries were continuing. Anyone with information is asked to contact police on the 101 non-emergency number or Crimestoppers.

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