Vandals target church sign in ‘sinister’ attack
AN appeal for calm has been issued after a church was vandalised in Craigavon in what’s understood to be a republican reaction to loyalist protests over the flag issue, writes Graeme Cousins.
A green, white and orange tricolour was painted onto the sign for Craigavon Presbyterian Church on the Drumgor Road during the early hours of Sunday morning in what has been described as a ‘sinister sectarian attack’.
It’s the latest in a long line of attacks on the church, who say they’ll not be dwelling on the incident, preferring instead to move on and look to the future.
It’s understood green and orange paint was also daubed on bus shelters and fencing at Clonmeen at the weekend.
Alan Ince, clerk of session at Craigavon Presbyterian, said, “At Craigavon Presbyterian Church we are not in the business of colours or flags or politics.
“We are in the business of the worship of God and showing His love through the church and in the Craigavon community.
“Lots of things have happened here in the past and we have had to tidy up after them. We’ll tidy this up too.
Mr Ince added the church has “very good, friendly relationships with all of our neighbours”.
The paint was cleaned off the sign at the church on Tuesday morning.
DUP MLA Stephen Moutray said: “I am absolutely appalled that this place of worship has been targeted by cowards in the night.
“Like other churches in the area, this church has been a Christian witness for the local community for decades.
“This is the latest in a number of attacks on the isolated church. This particular incident is both sinister and sectarian and I would ask all people at this time of increased tension to act in a calm manner.
“I’ve been in contact with church elders and Craigavon council and hope that the damage will be repaired as soon as possible.”
Upper MLA and SDLP Deputy Leader, Dolores Kelly, has condemned those who attacked the church.
“The SDLP has always stood against violence and the threat of it and we do so again today. This attack was provocative, pointless and futile and will not further any cause,” she said.
Meanwhile, UUP Councillor Colin McCusker, said, “This building and its congregation have been living under siege for decades. The brave families that attend and support this Christian church have run the gauntlet of attack from mindless sectarian thugs who don’t, to coin a phrase, ‘want a prod about the place’.
“This church and its congregation have been worn down after years of relentless sectarianism, and I can only imagine that this latest attack might well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
Craigavon Mayor Councillor Carla Lockhart condemned the attack by saying: “I know that the church will continue to work for good in that area and I will be remembering them in prayer as they deal with this situation.”
“Anyone who has information I would urge them to come forward to the PSNI and report it. This is a despicable and unacceptable sectarian attack and those involved must face the full rigours of the law.”
Joining the voices of condemnation was Sinn Féin Councillor Tommy O’Connor who also criticised those who vandalised bus shelters and fencing in the Drumgor and Clonmeen area in the early hours of Sunday morning.
He said: “This petty vandalism appears to be the work of the ‘open air drinkers’ who frequent the Central area. The group move around the area to avoid the attentions of the police and are regularly involved in petty vandalism.”
The councillor was particularly incensed at the painting of the Church sign describing it as a deliberate attempt to provoke and annoy the congregation. He explained, “There is never any excuse for wanton destruction of property but places of religious worship have a special significance and this should be respected by all.”
Councillor O’Connor revealed that he had been contacted on Sunday morning about the vandalism and he noted, “Several local community leaders contacted elected representatives and the PSNI early on Sunday morning to alert them to what had taken place and to begin the process of having the offending graffiti removed. I would like to thank these individuals for their prompt action. Their response is a true reflection of the real community spirit that exists within the Brownlow area.”
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Weather for Portadown
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 17 C
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